The Cardinals are embarking on a new era under Steve Wilks. In the ensuing months, they will identify their new starting quarterback and fill other positions of need. The first crack at re-shaping the roster will come in free agency, which begins on March 14. We’ll break down each position as it draws near.
*Free agent primer: *Running Back
*Cap hit of players under contract for 2018 (via OverTheCap.com): *David Johnson ($2.07 million); D.J. Foster ($630,000); Bronson Hill ($630,000); T.J. Logan ($530,487); Darius Victor ($480,000)
Scheduled free agents: Kerwynn Williams; Elijhaa Penny (exclusive rights)
Analysis: The Cardinals sorely missed Johnson in 2017 as he suffered a dislocated wrist in the opener against the Lions and never returned. He should be back and ready to roll in 2018, which makes running back a low priority in free agency. Peterson was acquired early in the season and had a pair of huge games against the Buccaneers and 49ers. His performance dipped down the stretch and Peterson missed the final five games of the season due to a neck injury. He will be 33 next season and a lack of versatility limits his value with Johnson back in the fold. (UPDATE: Peterson was released on Tuesday.)
Logan looked good in training camp and the Hall of Fame Game but, like Johnson, missed the season with a dislocated wrist. He seems to be the favorite to return kicks and punts, and hopes to carve out a role on offense. Foster and Penny are expected to push for a roster spot, with distinct skillsets the selling point for both. Victor and Hill will look to make an impression on the coaching staff this offseason.
Williams has been a regular fill-in the past few seasons and would be a nice insurance piece again in case of injury, but he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. There are plenty of big-name running backs set to hit free agency, including Dion Lewis, Doug Martin, Jonathan Stewart, Carlos Hyde and Rex Burkhead. The Cardinals have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Johnson, and any free agent pickups figure to be complementary additions.
Notable past free agent running back signings by the Cardinals: Chris Johnson (2015-16-17); Rashard Mendenhall (2013); Edgerrin James (2006); Emmitt Smith (2003); Mario Bates (1998).