The Cardinals have their starting running back in
Now, they’ve kept one of their own as a backup.
Andre Ellington re-signed with the Cardinals Monday on a one-year contract. With Johnson’s emergence as one of the best backs in the NFL, Ellington’s work dwindled to career-lows in all categories. He finished with 96 yards rushing on 34 carries last season, along with 12 receptions for 85 yards.
That didn't deter Ellington from returning to place he said he wanted to stay.
"It's a huge weight lifted off my shoulders," Ellington said. "But there wasn't a doubt in my mind I wanted to continue
There is still a chance the Cardinals could bring back veteran running back Chris Johnson as well, although Johnson may not have the workload opportunities he’d like in Arizona behind David Johnson.
The Cards are looking outside their own roster as well in free agency. Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound outside linebacker, is expected to visit the Cardinals. That comes at the same time Cardinals free agent linebacker Alex Okafor, whom Jones could ostensibly replace, was taking a visit to the New Orleans Saints. Cardinals free-agent linebacker Kevin Minter is scheduled to visit the Colts.
On the other side of the ball, Ellington helps depth, although he didn’t play much last year. Ellington’s first two seasons in the NFL showed him to be a steal as a sixth-round pick, gaining 1,312 yards rushing on 319 carries and adding another 85 receptions for 766 yards.
He went into the 2015 season as the starter ahead of both Johnsons. But Ellington got hurt in the season opener, and Chris Johnson stepped in to produce among the league’s leading rushers. When Chris Johnson got hurt later in the season, Ellington too was banged up, opening the door for then-rookie David Johnson.
David Johnson hasn’t let go of the job since, turning into a star. There were a few times last season Johnson and Ellington were used on the field together, but it wasn’t often.
"(My role) is to get in where I fit in," Ellington said. "David is a talented guy, but he's human. He's going to need a break every once in a while. That'll be my job to step in and spare him a little bit."