State of the Arizona Cardinals running backs

Inconsistent play rocked the Arizona Cardinals running backs in 2020.

The Arizona Cardinals had one of the league’s best rushing offenses in 2020. But the play of Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds was spotty. Yes, they both had their moments and each benefitted well as a two-back committee.

But Kyler Murray‘s 819 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns saved the running game from mediocrity. Drake had 955 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, but his 4.0 yards per carry is a reason to be concerned. Edmonds finished with 448 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and 4.6 yards per carry. But he’s at his best when not counted on to carry the entire load.

Drake is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and it’s unclear that he will return since the Cardinals have a few young running backs to help augment their game. Eno Benjamin is one of those backs. He didn’t play in 2020, but he’s signed through 2023 and the Cardinals may call his number more in 2021 if Drake goes.

Jonathan Ward is another one to watch. The undrafted rookie is signed through 2021 and holds the distinction that his first career catch in the NFL went for a touchdown, even if the catch was his only stat line.

The Cardinals have built an identity running the football and given late-season injuries to Murray, you can’t count on him to carry the load. Look for the Cardinals to either employ a committee or to find a featured back via free agency or the NFL Draft.

Drake will test the market and given his inconsistent play in 2020, he’s not a shoo-in to return. Edmonds contributed well. Especially in the passing game in which he logged 53 receptions for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns.

But he’s a Duke Johnson type of back who plays his best football in a committee, as he proved when he handled the load in week nine against the Miami Dolphins. The jury remains out on Ward and Benjamin, but given their lack of playing time and production look for change to loom for the Cardinals at running back.