From the outset of the 2021 offseason, it was pretty much a given that the Arizona Cardinals were going to move on from Kenyan Drake. With a limited amount of salary-cap room to work with, general manager Steve Keim was going to find it difficult to pay top-dollar for a running back. Drake did end up leaving Arizona for the Las Vegas Raiders on March 19th, creating yet another roster hole that the Cards front office will have to fill.
Chase Edmonds, while extremely talented, does not possess the size or durability needed to be a workhorse ball-carrier. The fourth-year pro and Drake complimented each other well over the past one and a half campaigns, but the Cardinals now need to find a new partner for the 5’9, 205 pound Edmonds. There are a few free agent backs who have not yet found homes who Keim and company may want to kick the tires on.
One of the most intriguing names among that group is Todd Gurley, a player who Arizona got to know quite well over the years. While employed by the St.Louis/Los Angeles Rams, the 6’1, 224 pounder made three Pro Bowl appearances (2015, 2017, 2018). Gurley averaged just 3.5 yards per carry for the Atlanta Falcons last fall, but the 26-year old would still be a nice addition to the Cards offense.
Duke Johnson is a fine dual-threat weapon who was released by the Houston Texans last month. In six NFL seasons (four with the Cleveland Browns), the 27-year old has accumulated 4,760 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns. The Cardinals could do much worse than a Edmonds/Johnson combination in 2021.
James Conner, a third-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2017, would also be an interesting option. The big knock on the 25-year old has been his inability to stay healthy. Conner was named to the Pro Bowl back in 2018, after he rumbled for 973 yards and 12 rushing scores in 13 contests (12 starts) for the Steelers.
Wayne Gallman, a 26-year old from the New York Giants, could also be of interest to the Redbirds. The former fourth-round draft selection, filling in for an injured Saquon Barkley, rushed for 682 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. Gallman is a 6’0, 216 pounder who played his college ball at Clemson University.
The only other running backs on the Arizona roster at the moment are Eno Benjamin and Jonathan Ward. Both were rookies last year, and are relative unknowns at the present time. It would behoove Keim and the Cards to add a free agent at the position who could make up for the loss of Drake.