The supply of competent running backs far outweighs the demand. That reality, however, can cause potentially great running backs to get lost in the shuffle.
James Conner, after four years with the Steelers, became a free agent in March. The team that drafted him had no interest in keeping him, planning instead to use a first-round pick on a replacement. Once Conner landed on the open market, he languished. Four weeks later, he signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Cardinals.
Dollar for dollar, it ended up being one of the best free-agent deals in recent years.
Conner has 964 yards from scrimmage in 13 games, and 16 touchdowns. He has scored at least once in seven straight games. (In those seven games, he has scored 11 times.)
For the year, he has 29 catches, along with several impressive one-handed efforts. Last night, he caught nine passes for 94 yards.
It’s not clear why it didn’t work for Conner in Pittsburgh. A local favorite after surviving cancer while at Pitt, Conner had periodic injury issues, missing 14 games in four seasons. He made it to a Pro Bowl in 2018, with 1,470 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.
Still, when the time came for his contract to end, the Steelers moved on. The Cardinals are surely happy that they did.