Texans Rumors: HOU Wants to Keep David Johnson at Lower Salary Cap Hit

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 26, 2021

Houston Texans running back David Johnson lines up against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

The Houston Texans are interested in retaining tailback David Johnson but aren't thrilled about his $8.5 million salary cap hit, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:

Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL

Texans would like to retain running back David Johnson, if possible, according to sources. He's due a $7.95 million base salary in 2021 with $2.1 million of it guaranteed. Team would want to lower his salary cap figure of $8.512 million

After the team released fellow tailback Duke Johnson earlier on Friday, Wilson reported the franchise would hang onto David Johnson if they're able to restructure his contract.

In 12 games last season, David Johnson rushed for 691 yards on 147 carries with six touchdowns, adding another 314 receiving yards with two touchdowns. While his 4.7 yards per carry were the highest of his career, Johnson's 2020 season was marred by concussion symptoms that left him unable to play a full 16 games for the third time in four years. 

If the Texans are unable to rework his contract, and instead decide to release him, it'll mark another failure of the inexplicable DeAndre Hopkins trade last March. 

Then-Houston head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien acquired Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020 and a fourth-round pick in 2021 for the All-Pro wideout and a fourth-round pick in 2020, in what's largely deemed one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history. 

New Texans GM Nick Caserio now has to find a way to navigate the aftermath of that deal—while attempting to convince disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson to remain in Houston—as he enters his first season with the franchise. 

According to Spotrac, Houston is projected to enter free agency with nearly $20 million available to spend, though the NFL has yet to announce the salary cap for 2021. The question isn't whether the Texans can afford to keep Johnson on the roster, but whether or not doing so will limit their ability to upgrade elsewhere on a team that finished 4-12 last year.