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.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury speaks with the media after OTAs on Monday, May 23, 20...
Tyler Drake

‘Hard Knocks,’ more than just a series for Arizona Cardinals in 2022

While HBO's Hard Knocks series brings with it added distractions, the Cardinals are looking at the positives of giving fans a closer look.
8 hours ago
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up before the NFL game at State Farm Sta...
Tyler Drake

Kyler Murray expected to attend Arizona Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp

Kyler Murray was a no-show for another voluntary workout but head coach Kliff Kingsbury anticipates the QB to be back for mandatory minicamp.
1 day ago
Darrell Daniels #81 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the first quarter of the game against th...
Kellan Olson

Former Arizona Cardinals TE Darrell Daniels signs with Houston Texans

Former Arizona Cardinals tight end Darrell Daniels signed with the Houston Texans on Monday, the team announced.
1 day ago
Dennis Gardeck #45 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals...
Kevin Zimmerman

Cardinals’ Dennis Gardeck says old knee injury impacted him in 2021

Dennis Gardeck really believed his repaired knee felt back to normal when we made a quick return from early 2021 surgery.
1 day ago
(HBO Photo)...
Tyler Drake

HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks In Season’ to feature Cardinals

The Cardinals will be featured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks In Season' for 2022, becoming the second NFL team to do so for the midseason series.
1 day ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Rams in t...
Arizona Sports

Kyler Murray not at Cardinals OTAs, expected at mandatory camp

ESPN's Adam Schefter added there is no news on the contract front regarding Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.
1 day ago
Football Outsiders: James Conner’s contract No. 1 in 2021 RB free agency