It’s no secret the Arizona Cardinals see second-year running back David Johnson as their top running back option heading into the 2016 season.
It’s also clear that coach Bruce Arians’ scheme worked pretty well for former starter Chris Johnson before a leg injury led to David Johnson taking over and breaking out.
With both things true, maybe it would seem that Chris Johnson might’ve had a tough choice this offseason when he was a free agent. Turns out, it wasn’t that difficult a decision to return despite potentially taking on a diminished role.
“When I left and sat down with my agent, it was simple. It was like, in order for me to leave here, somebody would have to basically offer me a deal out of this world for me to leave,” Chris Johnson said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Off the Edge show.
“Just coming from a team that we came from, and the way we was winning, how close we was, that was one of the main factors of not being able to leave,” he added. “After leaving here, talking with B.A. and the interest they had in me and wanted me to come back, when no other team gave me an opportunity, they gave me an opportunity.”
Johnson felt like he found a home.
After his more successful days in Tennessee and a 2014 stint with the New York Jets, Johnson’s stock fell heading into the 2015 season when he was recovering from being shot.
The Cardinals took a risk on him and when starting running back Andre Ellington was injured, Johnson took over to amass 814 yards with a 4.2 yards-per-carry average in 11 games before he went down with a broken leg.
Maybe he won’t get the same workload, but Johnson felt comfortable remaining with Arizona.
“I don’t really like change, I like a routine. I think my best opportunity was here,” he said.
Johnson is well aware of David Johnson’s potential to become the first option. Their mentor-mentee relationship is one reason Chris Johnson isn’t afraid to return.
“I really believe, like, if he wanted to, he could play receiver if he wanted to. He’s got a lot of great things in his game,” Chris Johnson said of David. “We both have our great things we’re good at. I think it’s going to work out great.
“No matter who getting the most touches and stuff, your young guys, you got to teach them, you got to bring them along,” he added. “I don’t want to just be a guy who is out here setting all these records, doing all this. I want to be able to leave a legacy where I also taught younger guys.”