The Cardinals need to upgrade the roster after a poor 2018 season, and while the No. 1 overall pick awaits in April, first comes free agency. General Manager Steve Keim has significant cap space to use for the first time in his tenure and could be aggressive. We will take a look at each position group in the days leading up to free agency, which begins on March 13.
Free agent primer: Running backs
Cap hit of players under contract for 2019 (via OverTheCap.com): David Johnson ($9.75 million); T.J. Logan ($695,487); Chase Edmonds ($683,089); D.J. Foster (unknown); Brandon Wilds ($645,000).
Scheduled free agents: Derrick Coleman.
Images of notable running backs scheduled to hit the open market
Analysis: The Cardinals’ running game struggled in 2018, but the hope is that a new scheme and better blocking can lead to more production next season, because the backfield personnel could look similar. Johnson secured a lucrative contract extension before the first game, and while his numbers took a step back from a magnificent 2016, he is still the team’s most potent offensive weapon. Coach Kliff Kingsbury will be tasked with putting Johnson in position to succeed, whether that’s handing the ball off or throwing it to him.
Chase Edmonds grabbed the backup running back spot quickly as a rookie and is hoping to keep it. Air Raid concepts can regularly feature two backs, so Edmonds’ role could increase if he proves worthy of the playing time. Logan is the fastest player in the group but did not make an impact on offense last season. His speed could be intriguing to Kingsbury. Wilds will look to compete for a roster spot.
The Cardinals re-signed Foster on Friday. He suffered a torn ACL in the preseason but is on the mend, and has the type of versatile skillset that could fit nicely in Kingsbury's offense. Conversely, Coleman’s strengths do not seem as conducive to the new offensive scheme.
The Cardinals invested heavily in Johnson and it’s unlikely they spend big money at running back in free agency. However, if there is a player on the open market that fits Kingsbury’s vision, a signing wouldn’t be completely out of left field.
Notable past free agent running backs signings: Chris Johnson (2015); Rashard Mendenhall (2013); Edgerrin James (2006); Emmitt Smith (2003); Mario Bates (1998).