Cardinals Linked to Pro Bowl RB Amid Future Free-Agent Backfield

James Conner

Getty Images James Conner celebrates with Chase Edmonds against the Texans on October 24, 2021.

I know what you’re thinking, why in the world is there Arizona Cardinals offseason talk for a team who is on their way for a potential postseason run?

Well whether Cardinals fans like it or not, the Super Bowl is in 36 days. The game of speculation and rumors never sleeps in football and no matter what happens in the playoffs, the Cardinals have questions that need to be answered in the offseason.

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Pro Bowl linebacker Chandler Jones headlines the Cardinals 2022 free agents along with running backs James Conner, Chase Edmonds and wide receivers Christian Kirk and A.J. Green.

We already have an article on what analysts think should be done in the running back and receiver room.

Now, a football writer has linked a specific future free agent running back to the desert.

Cardinals May Need to ‘Replace Entire Backfield’

The title isn’t in our words, but Pro Football Network writer Dallas Robinson is expecting worst comes to worst when it comes to the Cardinals offseason plans at running back.

For the season, Conner has 16 total touchdowns and 1,034 yards from scrimmage. Just behind him is Edmonds, with 903 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals’ offense has soared if either of them is on the field.

Unfortunately for Arizona, both will be free agents. And even worse, despite their terrific play in 2021, neither has played more than 14 games due to injuries.

Robinson links Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon as an option for the Cardinals in free agency.

“It’s unclear if the Cardinals will re-sign either one,” said Robinson. “Gordon (Melvin Gordon) becomes an especially intriguing fit in the desert if Arizona only brings Edmonds back in 2022. The duo could form a thunder-and-lightning tandem, though it’d be tough to replicate the 2021 success of Conner/Edmonds.”

Gordon will be a free agent after the 2021 season. He signed a two-year deal with the Broncos in 2020 after a disappointing 2019 season with the Chargers in which he held out at the beginning of the season for a new contract.

The 28-year-old running back still has something left in the tank according to Robinson.

“Now that he’s entering his age-29 campaign, Gordon will almost certainly need to accept a one-year contract with a reduced salary,” said Robinson. “That’s not to say Gordon has been disappointing in Denver. He’s split carries for most of the past two seasons, but he’s totaled 1,794 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground in that time. In the receiving game, he’s managed 59 catches for 265 yards and 3 more scores. Gordon’s production is perfectly acceptable.”

Heavy on Jets writer Paul Esden Jr. is banging on the table for the Cardinals to keep Conner in the offseason.

“It’s James Conner,” Esden Jr said on Heavy’s I’m Just Saying. “He has struck gold. He’s a great story. He overcame cancer, was at Pittsburgh and gets to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He rises up and then Arizona came up, dusted him and said, ‘come over to the desert.’ And he has been reborn. He’s a touchdown machine.”

Conner, Edmonds and Gordon are all around the same $5 million market value per year according to Spotrac. Robinson says the mid-tier of running backs are usually between $5 million and $8 million. You can make the case that any of those backs fall in that category.

The Broncos have done well with a Javone Williams and Gordon backfield. Any one of the Cardinals running backs and Gordon could be deemed as a future-fit.

Roster Moves Prior to Finale

The Cardinals made a few moves the day before their Week 18 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

Arizona elevated tight end David Wells and linebacker Tahir Whitehead to the active roster from the practice squad as standard elevations. No sign of an elevation for cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who was officially signed to the practice squad during the week.

With rookie cornerback Marco Wilson out for a third straight game, the Cardinals moved up Kevin Peterson from the practice squad and is expected to be one of the top three corners alongside Byron Murphy Jr. and Antonio Hamilton.

All systems go for the majority of the team, who are getting back key players in lineman D.J. Humphries, edge rusher Markus Golden, cornerback Breon Borders and linebacker Devon Kennard.

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