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James Conner to sign 3-year contract extension with Cardinals, per report

The Cardinals keep Conner around to be their lead back in 2022.

Arizona Cardinals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Running back James Conner has agreed to a three-year extension with the Arizona Cardinals, per the team. The base deal is worth $21 million, including $13.5 million in guarantees, but could be worth up to $25.5 million with incentives, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Conner was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and spent four years in the black-and-gold. He racked up 22 touchdowns in just 50 games with the Steelers, amassing a total of 2,302 rushing yards in those four seasons. After his deal was up in Pittsburgh, he signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in April of 2021.

2021 performance

Conner made a career-high 15 appearances for the Cardinals last season, topping out at 96 single-game rushing yards against the 49ers in November. He was Arizona’s leading rusher with a total of 752 yards, and his career-high 15 rushing touchdowns was good enough to rank second in the league. He split time with fellow running back Chase Edmonds, but outperformed him as Edmonds only finished the season with 592 yards and two rushing scores.

Conner helped the Cardinals reach the NFC Wild Card round, where they ultimately lost to the eventual Super Bowl 56 winners Los Angeles Rams with a 34-11 final score, effectively ending Arizona’s season.

What it means for Cardinals

The Cardinals decided to go with Conner over Chase Edmonds, as he will head to Miami on a two-year deal. They could go for another running back in the draft, but could also lean on Eno Benjamin as the No. 2. But no matter, it looks like Conner will be the lead back heading into 2022.