Top 3 running backs Arizona Cardinals should look to sign before Week 1

The Arizona Cardinals are down a running back who was supposed to be the RB2 this season.
Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes the ball
Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) rushes the ball / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals want to be a run-first offense. But the problem is, the Redbirds currently have just one back established enough to produce in this league, with that back being James Conner. 

Luckily for the Cards, there are several big-name backs out there in free agency who can take up the mantle as an RB2. And there are even a few, if general manager Monti Ossenfort is willing to spend some money, capable of splitting carries with Conner and creating a legitimate one-two punch. 

While I’m not one to look toward free agency, the fact of the matter is, if Arizona wants to be a run-first team, they need capable backs. And at this point, they don’t have them. 

3 running backs still available for the Arizona Cardinals taking

1 - Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook won’t come cheap, but if the Arizona Cardinals want a productive back who will draw immediate fan interest, he’s the guy to get. Cook has been in the league for quite some time, so ordinarily I would expect some wear, but with Conner also in the desert, the longtime Minnesota Vikings back can split time with the incumbent RB1 and preserve his tires. 

Cook has also shown no signs of slowing down, amassing at least 1,100 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per carry in each of the last four seasons. He will cost the Cards some money, but he will also provide decent returns. 

2 - Ezekiel Elliott

No, Ezekiel Elliott is nowhere near the player he once was, and the last time the Cards signed a past-their-prime running back from the Dallas Cowboys, it didn’t work out well. But once again, James Conner’s presence changes things, and Elliott doesn’t need to be a workhorse. 

Elliott rushed for a career low 876 yards and 3.8 yards per carry in 2022, but he still managed 12 rushing touchdowns, which tied for the second highest of his career. Like Cook, Elliott can work with Conner in a timeshare as opposed to being an RB1 or an RB2. 

3 - Darrel Williams

Darrel Williams played for the Arizona Cardinals last season, if you remember correctly, and he looked good in his limited opportunities, racking up 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, good for 4.9 yards per attempt. The only issue was, the 27-year-old often found himself in the trainer’s room and eventually wound up on injured reserve.

Williams, however, has been successful in this league when given the chance, and he would cost far less than Elliott or Cook. No, he wouldn’t be the most exciting pickup, but Williams should nonetheless be a serviceable back if healthy. 


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)