The Cardinals continued to add to their offseason free-agent haul on Tuesday, signing running back James Conner on a one-year deal a day after he visited the team and took a physical.
Conner, 25, joins the Cardinals after spending the past four seasons with the Steelers. In 50 career games (33 starts), he rushed for 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns on 532 carries (4.3-yard average) and caught 124 passes for 963 yards and four touchdowns.
A third-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018, Conner becomes the latest well-known veteran to join the Cardinals. The team previously signed edge rusher J.J. Watt, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, wide receiver A.J. Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, cornerback Malcolm Butler, a two-time Super Bowl champion, along with kicker Matt Prater, guard Brian Winters and safety Shawn Williams.
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Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) celebrates a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers with the game ball at Dignity Health Sports Park. (Photo: Jake Roth, Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
Arizona also acquired three-time Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson and a seventh-round pick from the Raiders in exchange for a third-round pick.
In adding the 6-foot-1, 233-pound Conner, the Cardinals fortified their backfield following the free-agent departure of Kenyan Drake, who signed a two-year deal with the Raiders. Conner, who rushed for 721 yards on 169 carries last season, will compete for snaps along with Chase Edmonds, who has run for 959 yards (4.8-yard average) in three seasons with Arizona.
Conner gives the Cardinals a bigger, stronger running back they can use between the tackles and in short-yardage and goal-line situations, whereas the 5-9, 210-pound Edmonds offers a quicker, change-of-pace dynamic.
Both running backs are adept pass catchers as well. Conner had 55 receptions for 497 yards during his Pro Bowl season and that same year became the first player in NFL history to have four games in a single season with 100 or more rushing yards, 50 or more receiving yards and a touchdown. Edmonds caught a career-high 53 passes last season for 402 yards and four touchdowns.
In Arizona, Conner reunites with running backs coach James Saxon, who was his position coach with the Steelers from 2017-18. The Cardinals now have five running backs on their roster, including Eno Benjamin, the former Arizona State standout who was a seventh-round draft pick a year ago, along with Jonathan Ward and Khalfani Muhammad.
Conner underwent toe surgery this offseason but is expected to be fully recovered in time to participate in training camp.
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