David Johnson’s contract protects him in 2020

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With Chase Edmonds and newcomer Kenyan Drake getting it done for the Cardinals, it’s easy to wonder whether running back David Johnson has become a luxury the Arizona Cardinals can no longer afford. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that decision for 2020 already has been made.

The contract that Johnson signed just before the 2018 season fully guaranteed half of his $10.2 million salary for 2020 at signing. The other half became fully guaranteed earlier this year. So he’s getting $10.2 million next year, even if the Cardinals conclude that Johnson isn’t the best option to be the No. 1 tailback, on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

It gets better (actually worse) for the Cardinals. Next March, $2.1 million of Johnson’s 2021 salary becomes fully guaranteed, ensuring that he’ll get paid by the team even if they decide after 2020 to move on.

Meanwhile, Edmonds will make $660,000 next year and $750,000 in 2021.

It’s a great deal for Johnson, and it underscores the importance of having rolling guarantees that vest a year early. Plenty of contracts have that, but many don’t. If Johnson’s deal didn’t, he’d be in real danger of being cut before March, when his $10.2 million would have otherwise become fully guaranteed.