Kenyan Drake's four-touchdown day felt like the nail in the coffin for David Johnson's future in Arizona.
The Arizona Cardinals traded for Drake from the Dolphins back in October, and Johnson's role has steadily decreased ever since. Once one of the NFL's premier backs, Johnson, who has dealt with a plethora of lower body injuries, has lost his role as the Cardinals' featured back in 2019.
Since Johnson's return from an ankle injury in Week 10, he has had just 15 carries for 42 yards and five receptions for 51 yards, with one receiving TD, in that five-game stretch. it's clear Johnson is getting phased out of Kliff Kingsbury's offense, making him a prime offseason trade candidate.
Johnson is set to count for $26.25 million against the salary cap over the next two seasons, so trading him away makes perfect sense for both parties. The running back will get a fresh start, and the Cardinals can fill plenty of other roster voids. To me, Johnson still has the ability to be a versatile and effective running back if given the opportunity, and there are teams that desperately need a player like him.
Here are three other running backs who are prime offseason trade candidates:
Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets: We all saw what Adam Gase thought of Bell's high price tag (though he later said he didn't think New York overpaid for Bell). Couple that with the fact that the first-year Jets head coach hasn't utilized Bell enough or the right way, and, well, it's just not working. Gase has been insistent on running the offense through quarterback Sam Darnold's arm and not the Jets' proven back. This marriage has been rocky from the start, and there are other teams that have already shown interest.
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars: Head coach Doug Marrone is on the chopping block, and there are rumors that the Jags could clean house. Fournette's place on this team depends on who the next head coach is. The person who runs the offense in 2020 will have a ton of say about the type of players that are needed to be effective in the system. Personally, I don't think the Jags will trade Fournette, who is still on his rookie contract, because he's one of the few first-rounders of the last half decade -- and the only offensive one -- still on the roster. The offense needs his talent. That said, I'm not sure the franchise keeps him around.
Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are doing more than fine with Telvin Coleman and Raheem Mostert in the backfield. (Matt Breida is set to be a free agent.) McKinnon hasn't seen the field in two seasons. The 49ers gave him a big contract before the 2018 season and could help themselves in other areas by trading him away to an RB-needy team like the Falcons or Chiefs. Even with McKinnon's injury history, he has the ability to make plays in the right scheme and holds a lot of untapped potential.
Now, let's get to the weekly rankings ...
Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his TOP 10 each week for the final month of the 2019 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 16.
Another week, another 175 scrimmage yards for Run-CMC. With his monster outing against the Seahawks, McCaffrey surpassed 2,000 scrimmage yards for the season and now stands at 2,121 with two games left. Passing Chris Johnson's single-season record of 2,509 feels doable, but it's going to take everything McCaffrey's got.
Zeke has had two rushing touchdowns in each of the last two games, a good sign that the Cowboys are leaning on the player and unit that has won them so many games since Zeke was drafted. While Todd Gurley and the Rams sputtered in the first half of Sunday's clash of playoff hopefuls, Zeke thrived by rushing for 78 yards and two scores on 17 carries. The Cowboys must continue to stick with this game plan, no matter how well Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' passing attack is operating.
Of all the storylines coming out of Cleveland, the best one is Chubb's quiet but brilliant campaign. With another 125-plus yard outing against Arizona, Chubb is on pace for 1,609 rush yards by season's end. It's going to take a lot to catch him as the league leader.
The Texans were the first team to limit Henry in quite some time, holding him to 86 yards on 21 carries Sunday. It was evident that his lingering hamstring injury affected his performance. It's too bad this injury came just as the Titans were making a playoff push. It's still doable, but they need Henry at full strength.
It feels as if Cook's shoulder injury could make or break the Vikings' season. With a HUGE game against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Eve eve, there's not much time for the dynamic back to heal. He's proven to be one of the top backs in the NFL when he's healthy, and it's a shame he won't finish the season at 100 percent.
There's no excuse for Gurley's usage -- or lack thereof -- in the first half against the Cowboys. He had all of six carries for 1 rush yard before halftime and finished the game with 11 carries for just 20 yards. To be fair, Gurley scored two touchdowns in the loss, but the running back's decrease in production has undeniably been part of the team's Super Bowl hangover.
Mixon's production continues to build as the season comes to a close, showing real promise in the years to come. The Patriots shut down Andy Dalton, forcing four picks in the game, but they couldn't stop Mixon, who had 136 rush yards on 25 totes for 5.4 yards per carry.
Rashaad Penny went down, and Carson stepped up with 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Panthers. He's comfortable as the lead back, and he'll have to continue to show out every time he takes the field. </content:power-ranking>
After Jacobs sat out a week, I gladly welcome him back into my top 10. The rookie recorded 100 scrimmage yards in the Raiders' final game in Oakland, and he leads all rookies in rush yards.
The Ground Index delivered by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. Will Derrick Henry bounce back next week? Check out the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.