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Would You Make This Trade?

Talking about an alternative universe where the Arizona Cardinals move David Johnson as opposed to paying him.

Arizona Cardinals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Cardinals find themselves in a bit of a pickle regarding RB David Johnson’s contract. Despite missing 15 games in 2017 due to a broken wrist, Johnson and his agent appear to want the Cardinals to sign him to the highest long-term contract for a RB in the NFL, one that averages roughly $12M a year with north of $20M in guaranteed money.

What if….

The Cleveland Browns called and offered the Cardinals their pick of either RB Carlos Hyde or RB Duke Johnson, plus, as part of the total package, TE Seth DeValve, and DE Carl Nassib.

Would you consider taking this deal and, if so, which RB would you choose?

RB Carlos Hyde (6-0, 229, 5, Ohio St.)---Steve Wilks wants to pound the ball. Carlos Hyde, a 2nd round pick in 2014, fits that mode to a tee. Last year for the 49ers Hyde rushed for 938 yards (3.9 ave) and 8 TDs. For his career he’s rushed for 2,729 (4.2 ave.) and 21 TDs. As a receiver he’s caught 109 passes for 634 yards and 3 TDs. Contract: he signed a 3 year $15M contract with the Browns this year. His signing bonus was $5M (guaranteed), thus the Cardinals would be getting him for 3 years at $10M, with a cap hit this year of $1.9M.


RB Duke Johnson (5-9, 210, 4, Miami)---Duke, a 3rd round pick in 2015 is one of the most talented dual threat RBs in the NFL. In his first three years, Johnson has played in all 48 games and has rushed for 1,085 yards (4.2 ave.) and 5 TDs and he has caught 188 passes for 1,741 yards (9.3 ave.) and 5 TDs. Contract: he signed virtually the same deal that Carlos Hyde did, 3 years at $15.6M with a $5M signing bonus. Thus the Cardinals would be getting him for 3 years at $10.6M.


TE Seth DeValve (6-3, 245, 3, Princeton)----the Browns’ 4th round pick in 2016, DeValve has been productive his first two years as a pass catcher (70/522/12/1/3 TDs). Last year he outgained prized rookie TE David Njoku (398 to 386 yards). DeValve garnered some national notoriety when he was the first white player to kneel during the national anthem. He kneeled to honor his black teammates and because his wife Erica is an African-American. Contract: 2018 $726K; 2019 $816K.


DE Carl Nassib (6-7, 275, 3, Penn. St.)---in his first two years, Nassib, a 3rd round pick in 2016, has recorded 51 tackles and 5.5 sacks, while knocking down 9 passes and making 6 tackles for loss. He would fit Steve Wilks’ defense as an all-purpose 43 DE who can also slide inside to rush the passer on passing downs. Contract: 2018 $995K; 2019 $1.1M.


As much as I love David Johnson (the player and the person), I worry about how his upright running style leaves him vulnerable to injury. He’s not a classic banger between the tackles, he’s a bouncer. If I were part of the Cardinals’ brain trust, I would recommend switching Johnson over to WR, where I think he can be a dominant playmaker for the next 7-8 years. In that case, a $12M a year contract would seem a much safer bet.

But, especially in light of Tyrann Mathieu’s 2nd contract, I think it is too risky to sign Johnson, as a RB, to a $12M a year contract, without first seeing how he performs this year.

A trade offer like this one is tempting because not only is Carlos Hyde one of the better bangers between the tackles, he may well be the best pass blocking RB in the NFL. Acquiring him for $3.3M a year for 3 years would be a flat-out steal. Same with Duke Johnson, whom the Cardinals could feature as the starter, but at his size, would likely have to split snaps on a regular basis with Chase Edmunds and T.J. Logan.

I think that Seth DeValve could be a very good security blanket TE for Bradford and Rosen…which I believe is more critical to the success of this offense than people realize. I just don’t know whether Ricky Seals-Jones or Gabe Holmes can fit the bill and I lack confidence in Jermaine Gresham.

Furthermore, I think Carl Nassib could be a major asset for the defense, especially for the effectiveness of the pass rush, inside and out. I am concerned about the pass rushing depth.

The Browns are so deep at certain positions right now they have the assets to swing for the fences. At RB, even though they signed Carlos Hyde and re-signed Duke Johnson, they drafted RB Nick Chubb early in Round 2. And while boasting starting DEs Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett, they also have 2015 2nd round pick DE Nate Orchard, 2016 3rd round pick DE Carl Nassib and they added Miami’s DE Chad Thomas in this year’s 3rd round.

I could just imagine what the Browns’ new RB coach Freddie Kitchens and STC Amos Jones would be telling Hue Jackson, Todd Haley and the Browns’ executives about David Johnson. I bet this is a trade offer they would be willing to make and might be willing to sweeten. What do you think?