Another season, another injury for Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner, and this time, he’s on injured reserve. And what a bummer, since Conner was enjoying a remarkable season amidst what looks like a trying one for the Redbirds, as he scooped up 364 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 5.4 yards per carry this season.
Conner also snagged eight receptions on 10 targets for 30 yards, showing he could also make some noise catching the ball out of the backfield, even if he only gained 3.8 yards per catch. But here we are, once again, rolling without James Conner for a portion of the season. And this is the third time the 28-year-old has been forced to miss games because of an injury.
To be frank, there is no reason to keep Conner after 2023, as he’s proven himself unreliable to stay healthy for long stretches. And if the Redbirds are building their system around the run, they need backs capable of staying on the field.
Arizona Cardinals must move on from Conner when season ends
Conner’s contract expires following the 2024 season, however, they also have a potential out that would carry just $3 million in dead cap. Arizona will have the cap space next season to cover that, and acquire a back more durable than what Conner has shown over the past two seasons.
Last year, he missed four games with injuries and the year before that, Conner missed a pair of contests. Now that he’s on injured reserve, Conner will miss at least four more games in 2023, meaning that, over his career with the Arizona Cardinals, the seventh-year back will have missed 10 regular season games, and potentially more.
Do the math, and it equates to Conner missing at least 20% of all possible regular season contests he could have played in as a member of the Redbirds. He has been a productive running back, but Conner will be 29 next season. With his lack of durability, that’s an age when we see many backs’ productivity wane.
Source: Cardinals RB James Conner (knee) being placed on injured reserve by Kevin Patra, NFL.com
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)