David Johnson has a good reason for reportedly skipping mandatory Cardinals minicamp
The former third-round pick who missed all but one game in 2017 is entering his fourth NFL season
The Cardinals lost David Johnson for all of 2017 after he suffered a wrist injury in the season opener last September. In April, one of the league's most exciting running backs declared himself 100 percent healthy, though you won't find him at the team's mandatory minicamp this week because Johnson is looking for a new deal, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.
A 2015 third-round pick out of Northern Iowa, Johnson rushed for 581 yards and added another 457 receiving yards during his rookie season. In 2016, Johnson exploded for 1,239 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards, and he emerged as one of the league's most exciting players -- and a favorite among fantasy football fans.
But the 26-year-old made just $615,000 in base salary last season and is set to earn $1.8 million in 2018. Johnson has a salary-cap hit of $2.1 million, which ranks 27th among all running backs. For an idea of how his compensation doesn't match his productivity, consider this: Johnson ranked ninth in total value in 2016 as a runner and was first among all running backs as a receiver, according to Football Outsiders.
Johnson is in the final year of his rookie contract and, quite understandably, he's looking to get paid before taking the field and risking further injury.
Players under contract who skip mandatory minicamp are subject to fines -- $84,435 over the three days -- though it's not uncommon for teams to cover those costs as part of a new deal. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported last week that Johnson and the Cardinals could have a contract extension in place before the start of the season.
So what's Johnson worth?
We know that Le'Veon Bell, who like Johnson is dangerous as a runner and a receiver, is looking for a multi-year deal that will pay him more than the $14.5 million he'll make in 2018 on the franchise tag.
Spotrac, which pegs Bell's calculated market value at $11.7 million per year, estimates that Johnson should be looking at a contract that pays him $9.2 million a year, comparable to the five-year, $41.3 million deal the Falcons gave Devonta Freeman last August.
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