It’s an offseason of change for the Cardinals and their young star tailback, David Johnson. After missing all but one game in 2017 due to a wrist injury, Johnson will be returning to a team that will have a new head coach and a new quarterback.
As to the latter, Johnson tried to keep Carson Palmer from leaving.
“I think Carson’s done,” Johnson said on the PFT PM podcast. “I’ve talked to him. I was trying to get him to come back just because he was another person who was very impactful not just on the field but also off the field. I was trying to recruit him to come back but I think his mindset is [to retire] — and I definitely understand where he’s coming from.”
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has not yet decided what he’ll do in 2018. Johnson made a plea to get Fitzgerald to keep going.
“Larry’s got to come back,” Johnson said. “He’s still playing at a high level. I think he’s at 100 receptions and he had 1,000 receiving yards. He went to another Pro Bowl. He’s got to come back. He’s got to finish out and help us get to this Super Bowl that he’s trying to get.”
It may seem overly optimistic to peg the Cardinals as a Super Bowl contender, especially without a coach and a starting quarterback. But Johnson game the team a strong assessment when asked where the Cardinals fit in a division that features the Rams, Seahawks, and resurging 49ers.
“We’re definitely at the top,” Johnson said. “It’s a tough division but I feel like we’re definitely still at the top. Even with all of those injuries, we still finished 8-8. With everyone coming back healthy next year, we’re going to be at the top of the division.”
Johnson expects to come back healthy as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Though he’s now eligible for a second contract (and would like one), he has bigger objectives for now.
“Hope so but I’m really focusing more on getting this injury [healed] and making sure that I’m ready to play for 2018 and that I’m as healthy as possible for 2018,” Johnson said, “especially with so much stuff going on in the offseason with the coaches and the quarterback and stuff that I can’t really focus too much on the contract talk.”
It’s a smart approach. But even with his third NFL season marred by injury, Johnson did more than enough in his first two years to merit a deal that rewards him for what he’s done, and that will compensate him for what he’ll like do in 2018. In the end, he may have to show that he can return to form – and that he can stay healthy — before he’ll get his financial reward.