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Cardinals know David Johnson "one of our core players"

David Johnson skipped minicamp this week. That, everyone knows. He's looking for a contract extension, and likely a raise for 2018, when he is scheduled to make $1.9 million. Cardinals GM Steve Keim, meanwhile, wants to make sure his running back is around for awhile.

"I don't think there is any question David is one of our core players and someone we look forward to having a long-term future with," Keim said in an interview for next week's finale of "Cardinals Flight Plan." 

"(It's) no different from in the past, when we've rewarded players like Pat Peterson, Chandler Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, just to name a few. There's no doubt in my mind moving forward that we will keep a positive outlook and again, look forward to rewarding him just like we have players in the past."

There are a lot of moving parts here. In terms of a new deal, there are the arguments that he nearly went 1,000-1,000 in 2016 and that he's expected to be the driving force of this offense in 2018. There are the arguments that he missed almost all of last season with a wrist injury. There is zero question that both sides want to get a long-term deal done. This, as it does most of the time, will come down to the dollars within that deal. 

Quarterback Sam Bradford said multiple times this week he already has chemistry with Johnson and that Johnson's minicamp absence -- since Johnson was at virtually every other voluntary workout since the Cards came back in early April -- doesn't hurt anything. 

Then there is the reality of the collective bargaining agreement and the rules that would give Johnson a crucial fourth accrued season (to become an unrestricted free agent with no contract extension or franchise tag). That subject was addressed by former agent Joel Corry on Twitter:

A mandatory minicamp absence has never really meant a ton in terms of lost football time. And it's been a long time since the Cardinals have even faced one -- without doing a ton of research, it might go all the way back to rookies Calvin Pace and Bryant Johnson in 2003, which had to do with injury protections before rookie deals were signed. I can't recall any vets. (One year, Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett were seeking new deals, but still showed up to minicamp. They just didn't practice when they both happened to have hamstring issues.)

That doesn't really mean anything now, with this current version of the front office and this player. It's a tough time to be a running back in the NFL these days, with the way the position has been valued across the entire league. But it's hard to believe that the Cardinals and Johnson won't find a way to resolve this.

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