Cardinals sign ex-Steelers RB James Conner to 1-year deal

Eric Edholm
·2-min read

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to a one-year contract with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner, the Cardinals announced. (Fox's Jay Glazer first reported the news.)

Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, this is the first time Conner will play for a team outside of Pennsylvania.

Conner, who turns 26 in May, visited the Cardinals on Monday and underwent a physical, following a foot injury he suffered this offseason that could leave him shelved for part of the offseason program. He rushed 169 times for 721 yards (4.2-yard average) and six touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 215 yards in 13 games.

In four seasons with the Steelers, Conner ran for 2,302 yards and 22 TDs and added 963 receiving yards and four more scores. 

He has been beset by injuries over his career, missing two or more games each year in the NFL.

Conner made the Pro Bowl in 2018 with 13 total touchdowns and 1,476 yards from scrimmage. Since then, he's had only four 100-yard rushing games, with three of those coming early last season. A COVID-19 diagnosis and a late-season quad injury slowed him down the stretch, as he ran for only 223 yards and one TD and caught 17 passes for 90 yards in his final six regular-season games with Pittsburgh.

He scored a TD and a two-point conversion in the Steelers' playoff game with the Cleveland Browns but was held to 67 yards on 16 touches in the postseason loss.

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Can James Conner stay healthy in Arizona?

Conner's lengthy injury history is well known. In 2015 at Pitt, he suffered a season-ending MCL tear and later was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. After beating cancer, Conner was a third-round draft pick in 2017 but battled through multiple injuries — shoulders, knees, legs, you name it — but thrived and became a fan favorite.

This offseason, Conner suffered what was described as a turf toe-like injury while riding on a recreational vehicle. He is expected to be cleared to play football at some point this summer, possibly by June.

The Cardinals now have a possible 1-2 punch with Conner and Chase Edmonds at running back, although they're expected to consider some of the RB options in the 2021 draft.

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