ESPN’s Clayton: Money the reason why Chris Johnson isn’t with Arizona Cardinals

Aug 14, 2015, 9:11 AM

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2014, file photo, New York Jets running back Chris Johnson warms up before...

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2014, file photo, New York Jets running back Chris Johnson warms up before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in East Rutherford, N.J. Johnson and another passenger were shot in their shoulders while stopped at a traffic light in Orlando early Sunday, March 8, 2015 and the driver of the vehicle they were in was killed. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

LISTEN: John Clayton, ESPN NFL insider

Earlier this week, reports circulated that the Arizona Cardinals had offered a one-year contract to veteran running back Chris Johnson, and that they were waiting for his answer.

As far as anyone can tell, that answer is “no” for now.

Head coach Bruce Arians had voiced displeasure with the running backs he had in camp — they’ve been slowed by injury and too careless with the football for his liking. The opportunity for Johnson to come in and wrestle a roster spot away from one of the incumbents hasn’t been enough to have him accept Arizona’s offer.

ESPN’s John Clayton believes Johnson’s hesitance could be financially motivated.

“Arizona’s been the one team that’s expressed interest and clearly it must be some sort of money issue,” Clayton told Doug and Wolf Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Maybe he wants more than the minimum — you can understand that, he’s had a 2,000-yard season once and he’s a proud guy — but if you get signed now, you get pretty much the minimum. That’s maybe something he didn’t want to do.”

Clayton says Johnson isn’t alone in this category, citing Pierre Thomas’ visit with the Dallas Cowboys. Thomas, who spent eight seasons as a member of the New Orleans Saints, opted to pass on the Cowboys’ offer and wait it out for another opportunity.

Johnson is coming off a career-worst 663-yard season with the New York Jets. In Tennessee, he had six consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns.

He was also shot in the shoulder in Florida last March. The incident left one person dead.

“He is a back that’s a little healthier than he was when he had the shooting incident — he got victimized by that,” Clayton said. “But it’s kind of curious, because if you’re going to be playing in this league, you’ve got to get in camp. You need to be on a team. So, I guess he’s waiting for a little bit more money.

“Clearly, the Cardinals are looking for a guy that can kind of get you through this camp and show you a little bit of promise while the injuries are there. But, it looks like the money wasn’t right, so he said no.”

The Cardinals open their preseason slate Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at University of Phoenix Stadium, and will have some of their top running backs available. Andre Ellington has returned to full speed after being slowed by a hamstring issue, and should see action against the Chiefs. Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor should also be in the rotation, while fourth-round pick David Johnson and Marion Grice continue to be slowed by injury.

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