ARIZONA CARDINALS

Football Outsiders: James Conner’s contract No. 1 in 2021 RB free agency

May 31, 2021, 4:56 PM | Updated: Jun 1, 2021, 10:09 am
James Conner #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during warmups before the game against the Jac...
James Conner #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during warmups before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The signing of running back James Conner to a 1-year, $1,750,000 contract was one of many moves in a busy free agency for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021.

Football Outsiders ranked the contract of the Cardinals’ new running back as the best in terms of value this offseason in their 2021 free agency cost-benefit analysis.

Last year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Conner played in 13 games and started in 11, the second most starts in his NFL career.

The 26-year-old Conner rushed for 721 yards on 169 rushing attempts and caught 35 receptions for 215 yards with six total touchdowns in 2020.

Running back contracts have changed dramatically in just the past five seasons; the days when someone such as DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart would sign for more than 6% of a team’s cap, or nearly $11 million in today’s money, are long behind us. Still, less than $2 million a year for Conner is a great value, even if the model’s jumping up and down a bit too much.

Conner over the last three seasons has the 24th-most defense-adjusted yards above replacement, according to Football Outsiders.

Over his four year career in the NFL, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Conner has started 33 games and has rushed for over 2,302 yards and has collected 963 receiving yards.

Conner is competing with Chase Edmonds for the Arizona starting running back job.

Rounding out the top six 2021 free-agent running back contracts for value after Conner is Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette, Kenyan Drake, Taiwan Jones and Devontae Booker.

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Football Outsiders: James Conner’s contract No. 1 in 2021 RB free agency