Johnson agreed to a pay cut after the Eagles claimed him off waivers last month, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Johnson originally was scheduled for a base salary and cap hit around $1.37 million, but he'll now settle for $920,000, the league minimum for a player with three accrued NFL seasons. The 2018 second-round pick will need to battle for a roster spot in Philadelphia, where he'll be competing for reps in a backfield that includes Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard and fifth-round rookie Kenneth Gainwell. There isn't a clear roster lock beyond Sanders, though it would be surprising if at least Scott didn't also make the cut.
Philadelphia claimed Johnson off waivers from the Lions on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The Eagles continue to add depth behind top tailback Miles Sanders, with Johnson joining the likes of Boston Scott, Jordan Howard and fifth-round rookie Kenneth Gainwell in the backfield. Johnson still has youth on his side -- his 24th birthday won't come until June -- and his issues with efficiency and availability over the last two seasons can largely be blamed on injury. Still, facing real competition for a limited amount of depth touches doesn't bode well for Johnson's chances of manufacturing a career resurgence in the final year of his rookie contract.
The Lions will waive Johnson on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Johnson didn't quite reach expectations as a 2018 second-round pick, having been limited to 10 games as a rookie due to injuries, and then averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry in both 2019 and 2020. With the Lions having signed Jamaal Williams this offseason to back up D'Andre Swift before adding seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson to the backfield, the writing has been on the wall regarding Johnson's tenure with the organization. Still heading into his age-24 campaign, Johnson could end up being claimed on waivers by a team in need of backfield depth, with the Falcons, Jets or Dolphins representing potential landing spots.
Running backs coach and assistant head coach Duce Staley specifically raved about Johnson's proficiency in pass protection during a live interview with Pride of Detroit on March 12. "You can be the most talented route runner out there, but if you can't block, you can't play for me. Point. Blank. Period," Staley said. Staley's comments shine a more positive light on Johnson's future in Detroit after new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn failed to mention the running back by name in his introductory press conference last month, only to go on to say that Detroit needs to "find someone else" to complement No. 1 back D'Andre Swift. While the recently-signed Jamaal Williams may be that "someone else" - and Williams is quite adept at pass pro in his own right - Johnson already has a history of subbing in for Swift on passing downs and would seem to be what Staley would prefer in a depth option. With that said, Detroit could save $1.3 million against the cap by letting Johnson go this offseason, and it's not out of the question for another team to trade for the 2017 SEC player of the year who's entering the last year of his rookie deal.
The Lions' new coaching staff doesn't appear to view Johnson as a solid No. 2 running back, Chris Burke of The Athletic reports. Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn referred to D'Andre Swift as a "three-down back," but he also said the team will still need to "find someone else" to complement him. Johnson, a former second-round pick himself, thus figures to face competition for a backup role, or possibly even for a roster spot. He was largely used as a pass blocker in 2020, while Swift and 35-year-old Adrian Peterson handled most of the carries and targets. Now entering the final year of his rookie contract, Johnson may not have a future in Detroit under the new management.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/19||San Francisco 49ers||7||14.75|
|4||10/03||Kansas City Chiefs||25||19.32|
|6||10/14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1||12.30|
|7||10/24||@Las Vegas Raiders||29||22.38|
|9||11/07||Los Angeles Chargers||14||16.75|
|11||11/21||New Orleans Saints||2||13.00|
|12||11/28||@New York Giants||16||17.50|
|13||12/05||@New York Jets||20||18.00|
|15||12/19||Washington Football Team||3||14.24|
|16||12/26||New York Giants||16||17.50|
|17||01/02||@Washington Football Team||3||14.24|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||94||408||3||20||176||1||79|