June 23, 2024

James Conner hopes to finish career in Arizona, help Cardinals ‘turn things around’

However, the position Conner plays can be a fickle one. Peers near his age — Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler — all forged tremendous careers with their respective clubs for years, and they’re all playing for new ones in 2024.

Conner himself signed with the Cardinals ahead of the 2021 season following four years with the Steelers.

During that inaugural year with Arizona, Conner rampaged his way to his second Pro Bowl with 752 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. He was part of a spark that enabled the team to rattle off 11 wins and break a six-year playoff drought.

But the Cardinals have fallen off since then, winning just four games each the past two campaigns.

As part of turning it up “even more,” Conner is aiming to help Arizona a second time in changing its fortunes — this time hopefully with some staying power.

“I want to turn things around out here,” he said. “We have a great football team, we’re coached really well, so we want that to reflect on our record and our play. I want to speak up.”

The Cardinals aren’t currently a team with a ton of hype behind them to do something like go worst-to-first in their division. The defense, especially, would require a leap after finishing as the NFL’s second-worst scoring unit last season. The offense does appear to have some momentum behind it, though.

Kyler Murray is another year removed from his 2022 ACL tear with weapons like wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., the No. 4 overall pick in April’s draft, and ascendant tight end Trey McBride at his disposal. Conner will make all their lives easier in the backfield, and as an RB who has missed multiple games in every season to date, should benefit greatly by sharing duties with third-round rookie Trey Benson.

Should those pieces add up to a surprise run in 2024, the backfield storyline next offseason could revolve around whether or not Conner returns to help stack greater successes.