Arizona Cardinals: Is James Conner an outlier for a severely devalued position?

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner certainly impressed everyone this past season with an unprecedented 1,040 yards in 13 contests.
Jan 7, 2024; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) celebrates a
Jan 7, 2024; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) celebrates a / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner has been in the NFL for seven seasons, and it’s rare for any running back to pull off their best year at the advanced age (for the position) of 28. Given the number of hits backs take dating to their high school days, their bodies are often worn out when they reach their late 20s, and it’s why so many teams are hesitant to invest heavily in the position. 

But Conner, who will be 29 this season, could be one of the few exceptions to the trend. And even more amazing is the fact the soon-to-be eighth-year back is seeing so much success so late in a career at the position. But this isn’t the most interesting part of Conner’s story, as we also know he’s routinely battled injuries throughout his career, which has caused him to miss 10 games during his time in the desert.

Arizona Cardinals running back could be an outlier at the position

Despite Conner’s success, it would be rather reckless for the Redbirds to give Conner carries that a featured back would receive in 2024. His injury woes are one reason, but another reason is the fact that the Cards should bring more of a run-first mentality to the table now that they know they have not one, but three productive backs on the roster with the other two being Michael Carter and Emari Demercado.

This means Conner probably won’t reach the 1,040 mark again, but it also doesn’t rule out that he won’t enjoy another stellar outing. If Conner gains between 600 and 700 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry or more in 2024, then it’s a successful season for the experienced back. 

This would be even truer if Carter and Demercado continue to build off the success they enjoyed in the desert last season and rack up between 300 and 400 yards apiece. Overall, the Arizona Cardinals have everything they need in place to ensure Conner can be an outlier and continue to put up impressive numbers even at age 29.


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)