The Houston Texans released one running back in D’Onta Foreman and added another running back in Duke Johnson. Here is why I believe the moves are connected.
The Houston Texans released running back D’Onta Foreman early Sunday morning, and the move seemed sudden and abrupt. At the time, the Texans hadn’t signed another running back, which validated the suddenness of the trade.
It simply appeared the Texans didn’t have a plan in place to replace Foreman, but a seasoned general manager would know to not just release Foreman without having his replacement already on the roster. That’s kind of to be expected, considering the fact that there isn’t an active general manager in place for the Texans.
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However, the Texans found their replacement in Duke Johnson, who they landed in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Texans officially sent away a fourth-round pick which could turn into a third-round pick.
It was certainly worth the asking price, as Johnson is surely worth more than a fourth-round pick, in part because Johnson is only 25 years old and under contract through 2021.
Johnson is a great pass catching back, averaging 59 catches and 543 receiving yards per season since he has been in the league. Furthermore, Johnson has actually had more receiving yards than he’s had rushing yards in each season he has been in the league.
It would also be great for quarterback Deshaun Watson to have another check down option outside of Lamar Miller. Johnson has averaged 76 targets per season and has hauled in 78-percent of the targets thrown his way since he entered the league. He also made NFL history, as he was the first running back in the last 30 years to record 500-plus receiving yards in each of his first three seasons.
In addition, Johnson was the only running back in that three-year span to record 50-plus receptions per season. During the 2017 season, Johnson recorded 1,041 total yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns. Johnson also had 299 carries over the course of his four-year NFL career and only two fumbles. In addition, Johnson averaged 5.0 yards per carry as a runner in 2018.
Granted, Miller and Johnson are both similar types of players as they both are good pass catchers out of the backfield and are both nifty, elusive runners, but it would be helpful to keep Miller’s legs fresh.
It would also help to be able to run the same type of offense when Miller is off the field. On top of that, it would be lethal on pass plays to be able to line up Johnson with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee.
Although the Texans mismanaged the Foreman situation by not having a replacement on the roster when releasing him, that was salvaged nicely by getting Johnson in return for a fourth-round pick.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, O’Brien was the driving force behind the trade, so kudos to the Texans and O’Brien for making the trade.