David Johnson skipping mandatory Cardinals minicamp over contract

Shutdown Corner

David Johnson wants to cash in, finally, from his 2016 season.

The Arizona Cardinals star running back, who missed all but the season opener with a wrist injury, is reportedly skipping this week’s mandatory minicamp this week according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That seems to be the trend, as Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones and Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack recently joined the list of players holding out of minicamp for a new deal.

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While it’s a bit of unusual timing, given how Johnson had just 90 yards last season, there isn’t a lot of other leverage options for Johnson to use.

Johnson entering the final year of his deal

Johnson still is on his rookie contract, which woefully underpays one of the NFL’s best backs.

Johnson’s deal, as a third-round pick, was about $2.9 million over four years according to Spotrac. His base salary this season bumps up to about $1.88 million, which is still a great deal for the Cardinals.

Entering the final year of his contract, Johnson wants more long-term financial stability. Schefter said the two sides have been negotiating and both sides are “hopeful.”

One of the league’s best backs

Johnson had a good rookie season, then an amazing second year. In 2016 he had 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, as the Cardinals asked him to do almost everything in their offense.

He was expected to be a workhorse again last season, but suffered a wrist injury in the first quarter of the season opener and didn’t play again. The Cardinals went 8-8 without him and missed the playoffs, as they finished 30th among NFL teams in rushing yards.

All running backs understand that their prime is generally shorter than for most other positions, and they want to maximize their earning power when they can. That’s why Johnson’s holdout is understandable, even if he’s coming off a tough year.

Sending a message

Johnson was curiously not practicing on June 7, even though he was healthy according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, and it seems the contract talks were the reason.

While it’s probably not necessary for Johnson to skip minicamp if contract talks are going well, it’s a minor way of getting his point across. While each team’s mandatory minicamp has a purpose, it’s not like Johnson needs it to be ready for the season. He can sit out, give younger backs some extra reps, and get his point across about his desire for a new contract. The Cardinals can fine Johnson for skipping minicamp, but he hopes to easily cover that fine with a new deal.

It might be a bit of a tricky negotiation because running back value is a debated topic — ask Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers — but the Cardinals now have a sense of how serious Johnson is about getting a new deal.

David Johnson (31) reportedly will skip the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp. (AP)
David Johnson (31) reportedly will skip the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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