Arizona Cardinals GM Keim: ‘Nothing on the horizon to report as of right now’ with RB Chris Johnson

Aug 17, 2015, 9:32 AM | Updated: 9:52 am
New York Jets running back Chris Johnson is unchallenged during a scoring run against the Detroit L...
New York Jets running back Chris Johnson is unchallenged during a scoring run against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals General Manager

With the way things seemed to be progressing, it almost seems like a surprise that Chris Johnson is not an Arizona Cardinal as of Monday morning.

Early last week Cardinals coach Bruce Arians talked about the idea of adding another running back to the mix, and within days Johnson — the former Tennessee Titan and New York Jet — saw his name climb to the top of the leaderboard.

Shortly after it was reported Johnson would be in the Valley Sunday for a physical and a workout, and it got to the point where ESPN’s Adam Schefter said a deal was likely to get done as long as that visit went well.

Yet, thus far Johnson is not a member of the Cardinals, though general manager Steve Keim confirmed the team has chatted with the three-time Pro Bowler.

“We have discussed Chris Johnson for sure, and I’ve had some conversations with his agent, Joel Segal, but there’s nothing on the horizon to report as of right now,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday morning, before joking that the radio hosts would be the first people he would tell if and when a deal gets done.

Johnson, who will turn 30 on Sept. 23, is coming off a season in which he tallied just 663 rushing yards, the lowest total of his career. He also caught 24 passes for 151 yards while scoring two total touchdowns.

The first six seasons of his career saw him eclipse the 1,000-yard mark each year, with a high of 2,006 yards in 2009, and he has career totals of 1,897 rushing attempts for 8,628 yards and 51 touchdowns with 296 receptions for 2,154 yards and nine scores.

The Cardinals are interested in his services because their current stable of running backs has a bit of uncertainty surrounding it. Starter Andre Ellington, who battled injuries in 12 games last season, was banged up early in training camp, while third-round pick David Johnson — who was expected to back up Ellington — is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

After those two, the team could turn to Kerwynn Williams, Stepfan Taylor or Marion Grice (who is also injured), but none have the kind of track record of the player the Cardinals may be looking to bring into the fold.

Of course, the kind of role Johnson would fill for the Cardinals is uncertain, because the team is still high on Ellington as someone who can not only contribute, but be the team’s featured back. Saturday’s effort, in which he scored a rushing touchdown as well as caught two passes for 59 yards (including a 57-yard reception), only reaffirmed the team’s belief in the third-year pro.

“It goes back to show you, when the guy’s on the field he’s a dynamic player,” Keim said. “When he gets his hands on the ball there’s no doubt he makes things happen. Whether it’s in the passing game, as a running back — the guy has got unbelievable feet and quickness and athleticism, we’ve just got to make sure he stays healthy.

“He’s the type of player that can continue to be a force, and I know he’s got the right attitude. He’s a great kid and he works his tail off and he wants to be a great player, which is extremely important.”

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