Could the unrestricted free agent market for running back James Conner finally be heating up? It certainly seems like maybe that might be the case as of Monday afternoon, with the 2021 NFL draft now less than three weeks away.
According to NFL insider Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, Conner, the Steelers’ third-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh, has a free agent visit with the Arizona Cardinals scheduled.
RB James Connor heading to Cardinals for a visit today. One of top free agents still on market
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 12, 2021
Conner will see a friendly face when he visits with the Cardinals, as James Saxon is currently Arizona’s running backs coach. Saxon was the Steelers’ running backs coach when the Steelers drafted the Pittsburgh product.
Conner led the Steelers in rushing in 2020 with 721 yards and six touchdowns on 169 total carries during the regular season. He also caught 35 passes for another 215 yards in the 561 regular season snaps that he played. In the playoff loss to the Browns, however, Conner managed just 37 yards and a touchdown on 11 total carries and caught five passes for another 30 yards. He had just five runs of 20 or more yards on the season, as well.
Drafted in 2017, Conner has rushed 532 times for 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns in four seasons with the Steelers.
Conner missed three regular season games in 2020, with two being a result of him testing positive for COVID-19, the other game he missed was due to a quad injury. For the most part, Conner was a reliable pass protector in 2020 but with that said, he was far from perfect in that phase of his game. The Steelers run game has been nonexistent for several seasons now and that, along with Conner having durability concerns, is more than likely what resulted in the running back being allowed to test unrestricted free agency in March.