The Arizona Cardinals definitely made some splashy acquisitions in the offseason.
They signed massive left tackle Jared Veldheer to a similarly large free agent contract and brought in Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie to play opposite Patrick Peterson in the secondary.
One of the more under-the-radar signings general manager Steve Keim pulled off was bringing in veteran running back Jonathan Dwyer, who inked a one-year contract after spending the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So why Arizona for the former sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech?
“This is where I was mostly wanted,” Dwyer told Doug and Wolf Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I had a lot of other teams that were on the list. I could have went back to Pittsburgh, but I felt like this was a better opportunity for me.
“I saw the potential and everything we have here as an organization. It’s a fresh organization that’s on the path of going up, so I wanted to be a part of it.”
After gaining a career-high 623 yards on the ground for the Steelers in 2012, Dwyer’s workload was cut drastically last season. He carried the ball only 49 times, mostly due to the presence of Le’Veon Bell, whom Pittsburgh drafted in the second round out of Michigan State in 2013.
Dwyer, 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds, saw an opportunity with the Cardinals and was familiar with the coaching staff, including head coach Bruce Arians, who was his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh during his first two years in the league.
“The relationship goes far back,” Dwyer said. “He called me personally and told me they wanted me here and wanted me to help out. So it was kind of hard to say no.”
While the Steelers have hitched their wagon to Bell, the Cardinals also have a second-year running back they are planning on featuring in 2014 in Andre Ellington. Despite the surface similarities, Dwyer believes his opportunity in the desert is greater.
“B.A.’s mindset is he wants to play the guys he knows can help us win,” he said. “And he knows I can help this team and the development of these guys that are younger than me. Having a young veteran in the room helps us out as well.”
The 25-year-old will gladly accept the role he’s give from his coaching staff, but believes he’s ready to shoulder a much bigger workload should the opportunity present itself.
“I most definitely believe I am (an every-down back),” Dwyer said. “Compared to a lot of the bigger backs, I think I have some of the best hands catching the ball. I take pride in blitz pickup. I’ve been running the ball since I was five years old, so that’s me just being a natural runner.
“I think most definitely I’m an every-down back and that’s another thing I wanted to prove here.”