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Cardinals, David Johnson not ‘close at all’ on extension, says Ian Rapoport

David Johnson on Saturday, July 28, 2018, the first full day of Arizona's training camp. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Despite not having a new contract, Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is back at camp.

That’s good for the Cardinals. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it might be a while until Johnson and the team can agree to a new one.

“It does not sound to me like they are close at all,” Rapoport said on a broadcast.

Nevertheless, Johnson is back. His holdout through mandatory mini-camp feels like it went by in a flash when compared to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and his annual holdout-until-September.

So why is Arizona’s star running back in uniform again?

“I wanted to be here for the teammates, especially the younger guys. I’m kind of being looked at as a veteran now,” Johnson told NFL Network on Wednesday.

David Johnson? A veteran?

He’s only been on the team for three years, one of which he missed 15 games due to wrist injury suffered in Week 1. And in his rookie year, Johnson only started five games.

But without the presence of Carson Palmer and the lack of long-time Cardinal veterans on defense — no Karlos Dansby, Calais Campbell is long gone, Tyrann Mathieu won’t be roaming the secondary — Johnson is one of the few remaining players from Arizona’s last playoff game.

With a new coaching staff and so many new teammates, Johnson said he wants “to let them know I’m all in.”

His appearance also comes at a time when the team is missing general manager Steve Keim.

Keim is suspended until Aug. 22 due to his arrest for DUI.

Rapoport said that Keim’s absence presents another challenge in getting the deal done.

“It’s not impossible. They still have some very smart, very capable people helping do the deal,” Rapoport said.

The other difficult decision, he said, comes down to Bell holding out of Steelers camp while Todd Gurley signing an extension with the Rams two years before his rookie contract would have expired.

“The only real running back deal they have to go with as a barometer is Todd Gurley’s $15 million a year deal, but that’s in two years. There’s really no other elite running back deal to compare it to,” Rapaport said.

While Gurley set the market of the future, there is no clear star running back value for 2018.

They all want to be paid the most in the NFL while the Cardinals want to save as much cap as possible while negotiating the deal. Plus, with Johnson coming off injury, he hasn’t been on the field since the opening week last season.

Johnson is confident he’ll be the same player. He still thinks he can reach for 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving, something that’s only been done by two players in NFL history.

In 2016, Johnson hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark but was 121 yards shy of that receiving plateau.

“(Offensive coordinator) Mike McCoy is going to do as much as he can to utilize everyone’s strengths, and hopefully I get the chance to catch the ball a lot out of the backfield,” he said.

If Johnson and the Cardinals can’t reach an extension, it may linger into next offseason. Rapoport said the Cardinals don’t “sound like this is an organization that would do this when the regular season begins.”

That means, get it done now or wait until next offseason while ignoring the elephant in the room in 2018.

But as Kurt Warner said on the broadcast with Rapoport, there’s a mutual understanding between the two groups.

“The great thing is though, both sides want to be here,” Warner said. “(The Cardinals) understand what kind of special player and person they have in David Johnson … (Johnson) wants a new deal, but he was here in camp, he’s excited to be back out there, he’s excited to play.”