Another hole in the roster has been filled by the Cardinals, as GM Steve Keim attempts to free the team up in the draft to go in whatever direction the talent takes them.
The Cardinals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran running back James Conner Tuesday, providing a potential bigger back to pair with presumed starter Chase Edmonds in the team’s offense.
The move wouldn’t preclude the Cardinals from drafting a running back. But it does give them the flexibility to not have to choose one out of need.
Conner, 6-foot-1 and 233 pounds, had spent his entire four-year career in Pittsburgh, even reaching a Pro Bowl for the Steelers in 2018. That was his best season, collecting 973 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing and adding 55 catches for 497 yards and another score. Conner’s position coach that season was James Saxon, who is the current Cardinals running backs coach.
In 2020, Conner had 721 yards rushing and six touchdowns and 35 reception for 215 yards in 13 games.
But Conner has also been banged up in his career, battling injuries in playing 13, 10 and 13 games during his three seasons as a starting back. NFL Network reported Conner had surgery to repair a “minor turf-toe-type injury” but that he would be fully recovered by June. Conner took a physical Monday, so any injury has been vetted.
Conner won’t necessarily have the same workload in Arizona that he’s had in his career. Edmonds, who has only started four games his first three years and hasn’t had more than 97 carries in a season, has played well when given reps and coach Kliff Kingsbury has repeatedly said Edmonds would work well as the main back. Edmonds had 448 yards on 97 carries last season, as well as 53 receptions for 402 yards.
At 5-9, 210, Edmonds can be the three-down back if needed, with Conner providing relief every so often as well as more between-the-tackles heft in short-yardage situations.