The Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon around Kyler Murray, as James Conner is joining the backfield mix.
James Conner, one of the bigger named free agents available, visited the Arizona Cardinals on Monday. On Tuesday, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the two sides agreed to a deal. ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss has reported it’s a one-year deal.
On Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Conner is recovering from surgery to repair a “very moderate” turf toe-type injury this offseason. He is expected to be fully recovered by June, but the issue helps explain why Conner remained available into April.
Conner spent his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But even in his best season (973 rushing yards, 55 catches, 12 rushing touchdowns in 2018), he missed three games. He missed six games in 2019 and three more last year.
James Conner looks like a solid fit for the Cardinals
With the Steelers pretty quickly deemed unlikely to bring him back, the Cardinals stood out as a possible landing spot for Conner. Take away Kyler Murray’s production as a runner, and Arizona’s ground game was not good in 2020.
Kenyan Drake was unlikely to be back, and he indeed left to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Chase Edmonds is a promising player, but there are questions if he will be able to hold up in a clear lead role. The Cardinals have been a popular spot for some of the top running backs in this year’s draft class, but that probably goes to the backburner with the addition of Conner.
Conner may split work pretty equally with Edmonds, with a likely lean toward a short-yardage and goal-line role. In any case, the Cardinals have added another weapon for Murray, and if he’s healthy Conner is a better player than Drake.