Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson hasn’t been participating in OTA’s, but he isn’t injured. Some believe it’s for a new contract.
This past year was a tough one for the Arizona Cardinals. They went 8-8 on the season with a pretty veteran team. Their leading passer Carson Palmer was 38, their leading receiver Larry Fitzgerald was 34 and their leading rusher was a 32-year-old Adrian Peterson.
With the team aging and underachieving in 2017, the Cardinals have a new coach, they drafted Josh Rosen and are looking to rebuild their culture.
A question they must ask themselves is if they want David Johnson, their star running back who got hurt in Week 1 after 11 touches and missed the rest of the season, to be a part of their future. On paper, it might seem like a no-brainer but it’s a little more complicated than that.
Johnson is heading into the last year of his rookie deal. According to spotrac, in 2018, he’s set to make just $1.89 million which even after a lost 2017, is far below market value for Johnson. So far, he’s held out of OTA’s and it’s not because of injuries.
He is looking for a new deal before stepping on the field and it’s tough to blame him. Running backs don’t last long in this league, and he has to get paid before his career is over (which for most running backs is 30 years old).
According to Mike Garofolo of NFL Media, he expects an extension to get done before the season starts.
The injury in 2017 probably scared him, it was a reality check that this talent doesn’t last forever and you only have so much time to make money in the NFL before it’s all over. The question for Arizona is what is he worth?
Using spotrac’s calculated market value tool, Johnson’s market value is $6.9 million per year. Something like a five-year $34 million contract seems about right. That kind of deal would make him the sixth highest paid running back in the league for next year which makes sense.
When healthy he is one of the top backs in the league. In 2016, he rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s was a defensive coordinator’s worst nightmare. Arizona just has to decide if they want to fork over the money to Johnson who is coming off an injury that cost him 15 games last year.
For Arizona, I think it’s worth the risk. They have the cap space to make it work, plus if he returns to 2016 form they have a very productive back from ages 26-30 which should be his prime.
A player holding out for more money is always understandable. Especially for a running back a position that players rarely produce into their 30’s playing. Johnson deserves to get paid, and he likely will.