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Contract? David Johnson Doesn't Have Time To Think About It

Running back wants focus completely on bounceback year

Running back David Johnson and cornerback Brandon Williams pal around heading into Friday's conditioning test at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Running back David Johnson and cornerback Brandon Williams pal around heading into Friday's conditioning test at University of Phoenix Stadium.

David Johnson wrapped his arm around teammate Brandon Williams Friday as the two walked out for the Cardinals' conditioning test, Johnson wearing a big smile.

This is why the running back wanted to report to camp earlier this week, to be with his teammates and set the right tone going into the season.

He didn't want it to be about any potential contract extension, as Johnson prepares to play on the final year of his rookie deal. There are people that need to concern themselves with Johnson's potential contract – Johnson just doesn't want to be one of them.

"I've heard of former players, not just Cardinals but in the league, having the stress of the contract on them and it ends up affecting their play," Johnson said. "That's what I don't want. Especially since I'm trying to bounce back from last year with the wrist, and I'm trying to come out and prove to everyone that I am 100 percent and I am better than 2016."

The contract, Johnson reiterated, was for his agents and the Cardinals to hammer out. "I don't have time to think about it," Johnson said, not with a new offense to learn.

Johnson didn't even play three full quarters in 2017 before breaking his wrist, undercutting a chance to try again at the 1,000-1,000 club he came close to reaching the year before when he had 1,239 yards rushing and 879 yards receiving.

Johnson skipped the mandatory minicamp to show that he wanted to get a new contract done, but decided coming to camp – the Cardinals asked him, coming off the wrist injury, to come early with rookies and quarterbacks Monday – was the right decision.

"It means a lot," Wilks said. "We talked about from Day One, he's a major part of what we're doing. I'm glad to see him back … very focused, very committed. He's in shape, he's looking good, and I'm expecting great things out of him this year."

Not thinking about the contract doesn't mean Johnson is blind to monetary developments at his position – notably the new extension for Rams running back Todd Gurley that reportedly has $45 million in guarantees.

"My biggest thing was I was proud for (Gurley)," Johnson said. "I trained with him coming out of college. It was cool to see him get what he deserved, not just him but also (Giants rookie) Saquon (Barkley) get his deal. It's just good to see running backs get deals."

Team president Michael Bidwill, now heavily involved in contract discussions with General Manager Steve Keim suspended, was asked if the Gurley contract would impact the talks and whether an extension could conceivably get done even with Keim sidelined.

"What we've got to do is look at the David Johnson situation," Bidwill said. "We knew that the market was going to be out there. We also knew (franchised Steelers running back) Le'Veon Bell was going to be out there. But, yes, we can get something done without Steve here."

While Johnson wants to come up with a big season after missing 2017, he said he doesn't think the lost time ultimately plays into contract talks.

"I don't think the Cardinals take that into (account)," Johnson said, adding "this is going into my fourth year. They've seen me play."


While every Cardinal passed the conditioning test, Wilks said, the coach did decide to hold quarterback Sam Bradford out of running. Nevertheless, Wilks said Bradford looked good in the three pre-camp practices held earlier this week. Bradford will have some scheduled off days in camp, Wilks added, just like other veterans.

Wilks also said he didn't want to get into timetables for the return off the PUP list for the three players on it for now: tight end Jermaine Gresham, defensive end Markus Golden and cornerback Chris Campbell.