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Free Agent Primer 2022: Running Back

Cardinals have tough decisions to make on James Conner, Chase Edmonds

FA primer RB

During the official Super Bowl handoff ceremony last month, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill expressed his Super Bowl aspirations for the 2022 season. Cardinals GM Steve Keim must fill several holes on the roster this offseason to make that happen. With the free agency period beginning on March 16, the final position group breakdown is here.

Free-agent primer: Running back

Other free-agent primers: WR, S, ST, TE, CB, OL, DL, LB, QB

Cap hit of players under contract for 2022 (via RB Eno Benjamin ($920,678), RB Jonathan Ward ($895,000), RB Jaylen Samuels ($895,000)

Scheduled free agents: RB James Conner, RB Chase Edmonds

Need: High

Analysis: Conner experienced a revelation first season in the desert. The 26-year-old had more than 1,100 total yards from scrimmage, led the league in total touchdowns (18), and tied second for most rushing scores. The impressive year turned into Conner's second career Pro Bowl appearance. Edmonds put together a solid 2021 with a career-high 903 total yards from scrimmage.

But injuries limited their on-field action together during the second half of the season. The Cardinals want to retain both this offseason for several reasons, including how they complement each other in the offense. Coach Kliff Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim understand that desire won't be easy to complete.

Conner played for less than $2 million and is hoping to make his big year pay off. Edmonds is coming off the final year of his rookie contract and might also receive a nice payday. Eno Benjamin should receive more playing time in 2022 as the second running back if the organization loses Connor or Edmonds.

Jonathan Ward, who made the Cardinals' 2021 play of the year, was tendered an offer as an exclusive rights free agent and will return. So does Jaylen Samuels, who is on a future contract through next year.

Notable past free agent running back signings: Conner (2021); Chris Johnson (2015); Rashard Mendenhall (2013); Edgerrin James (2006); Emmitt Smith (2003); Mario Bates (1998).

Images of some of the top free agent running backs scheduled to hit the open market.