Johnson might have been a salary cap casualty if he had not restructured his contract.
Johnson, who signed a three-year, $39 million extension with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, would have had a cap hit of more than $11 million in 2020 before he agreed to the restructured deal. He would have been owed nearly $9 million in 2021, of which just $2.1 million was guaranteed.
Houston traded for Johnson in March 2020 in a deal that sent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals.
Johnson ran for 691 yards and six touchdowns last season on 147 carries. He only played in 12 games, missing three with a concussion and one while he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
When the Texans traded for Johnson a year ago, the deal was done by former general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien, who was fired in October. At the time, Johnson was coming off the lowest production of his career and given the keys to the Houston backfield.
The Texans released pass-catching running back Duke Johnson last week.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jeremy Fowler and Sarah Barshop contributed to this report.