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Retiring David Johnson Was A Cardinals Shooting Star

Running back was spectacular during his 2016 season

David Johnson announced his retirement on Sunday through his social media channels, and by now it was more of a formality. The one-time Cardinals running back didn't play in 2023 and played only five games when he was with the Saints in 2022.

But it's a notable moment, if for no other reason than to mark the amazing first two seasons for Johnson after the Cardinals made him a third-round pick in 2015. He was so good he became the 2017 cover subject for Sports Illustrated's NFL preview, back when SI was still meaningful.

Sure, there were many fans frustrated with him at the end, a combination of Johnson struggling both with the vision as a runner that once made him great and his fit in the Kliff Kingsbury offense. But even in 2018, playing within a wretched offense as rookie QB Josh Rosen struggled, Johnson still gained 940 yards rushing, had 50 catches for 446 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns, and that was after he missed all but one game in 2017 with a wrist injury.

But he was a key piece of the trade for DeAndre Hopkins in 2020. And those first two years, I mean, dang. His numbers weren't eye-popping as a rookie because a) he was sharing time with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington and b) that team had all kinds of offensive stars. But he scored the game-winning TD on a catch out of the backfield against the Saints, and he had a Beast Quake-type TD run against the Eagles in their division-clinching win that season, and was quietly a stud.

His greatness, however brief, was loud in 2016. He was everything to that offense, and if he had not wrecked his knee early in the finale in Los Angeles, I have no doubt he would've been the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season after Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk (Christian McCaffrey ended up doing it in 2019.) Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns that season, and added 80 catches for 879 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

Bruce Arians would have fed him to try and get the 121 receiving yards in that Rams game, believe that.

And of course, and it was said many times both when things were going good and bad for Johnson in his Arizona stint, he was a good person. He enjoyed doing community interactions. He was there all the time to answer questions -- even when it got sour near the end -- and that means something. He was truly a meteor flashing across the sky before disappearing.

David Johnson Jets 2016