When the Texans traded for Duke Johnson back in August of 2019, the prevailing wisdom was that Bill O’Brien was finally going to incorporate a running back into his passing attack. After all, catching the ball was one of Duke’s greatest strengths, and adding another weapon for Deshaun Watson in the passing game was a good decision, even if the price paid (a fourth-round pick that could and did become a third-rounder) was steep, especially considering the glut of RBs the Browns had and the likelihood that Duke could find himself on the open market come final cuts in training camp.
Two seasons later, we know that O’Brien either had no desire to use a running back as a receiver or no clue how to do it. Thus, even with a new head coach in charge, the news that the Texans have cut Duke Johnson this morning was quite anticipated.
Texans just released RB Duke Johnson, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 26, 2021
Texans cut veteran running back Duke Johnson, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 26, 2021
Johnson’s release saves the Texans more than $5,000,000.00 in cap space.
The Texans traded a 3rd round pick for him in 2019. He’s coming off the worst season of his career. This move clears more than $5M in cap space. https://t.co/rf4s30YQzb— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) February 26, 2021
As Reiss noted, Duke Johnson was not good last year. He was never utilized properly by the Texans, but when he did get on the field, he never consistently looked like the explosive threat we hoped he’d be. He’ll surely catch on somewhere else and could prove to be a bargain for his new team, particularly if his next employer boasts an offensive coordinator who doesn’t think running backs are only good for smashing between offensive linemen and that putting an athlete like Duke in space can be beneficial.
Now we wait for the news that the other D. Johnson on the roster—you know, the one that O’Brien and Jack Easterby thought was worth DeAndre Hopkins—has been released as well.