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Cardinals RB David Johnson starts for ESPN’s ‘perfect NFL roster’

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs for a touchdown as Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller (38) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Everyone knows Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is a stud, but he’s also one of the league’s best bargains.

It’s an easy label to give the third-round pick from 2015 when he scored 20 total touchdowns and had over 2,000 all-purpose yards in his second NFL season

Johnson’s $800,000 salary from his four-year, nearly $3 million contract signed after the 2015 NFL Draft makes him a great fit for a concept of building the NFL’s best roster possible under the salary cap.

That’s what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell was after crafting his “perfect NFL roster,” making a full 53-man roster with a couple of rules attached.

Johnson is the team’s starting running back, and as Barnwell notes, the all-around ability of Johnson is nearly unmatched.

The only all-purpose back who compares to David Johnson is Le’Veon Bell, whose $12.1 million franchise tender all but disqualifies him for this team. Johnson will be the focus of the backfield, but he will get help.

Johnson was the lone Cardinal to make the list.

Barnwell’s rules included at least one player from each team, but no more than three from one franchise. He also used the bottom of his roster to fill out special teams roles and put a limit on seven rookies, as they are easy cheap options for this type of exercise.

For those wondering who made it over other Cardinals standouts like Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald, Barnwell wouldn’t have had the luxury of cutting costs with their selections like he did with Johnson.

His three corners — Chris Harris, Malcolm Butler and Jalen Ramsey — cost $19 million combined. Peterson’s salary for the 2017-18 season is over $13 million.

The same applied at wide receiver. Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas formed the team’s trio at a combined cost of $10.69 million while Fitzgerald makes a $15.85 million salary this season.

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