Former Steelers running back James Conner was one of the biggest bargain free agent signings in 2021, parlaying a $1.75 million deal into a Pro Bowl bid for the Arizona Cardinals. Now, Conner has parlayed that breakthrough season into a longer stay in Arizona. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Cardinals and Conner agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension with a maximum of $25.5 million and $13.5 million fully guaranteed.
Cardinals are giving RB James Conner 3-year, $21 million deal that could grow to a maximum of $25.5 million and includes $13.5M fully guaranteed, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2022
Conner is coming off a season in which he ran for 752 yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 375 yards and three more touchdowns through the air, to earn his second Pro Bowl honors.
After four seasons in Pittsburgh, arriving out of Pitt as the Steelers’ third round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, he compiled 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground and 161 receptions for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 26-year-old Erie native is one of the greatest stories in the NFL today, beating cancer during his time at Pitt and coming back to make it to the NFL, and his NFL story is going to play out in Arizona for three more seasons.
Conner ran for 3,733 yards and 52 touchdowns during his four seasons at Pitt, playing just one game in his junior season after tearing his MCL and then being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Conner’s sophomore season of 1,756 yards and 25 touchdowns earned him All-American honors, and his 1,092-yard, 20 total touchdown redshirt-junior season cemented his Pitt legacy and NFL status.
Conner’s $7 million per year on his new deal places him just outside the Top 10 of highest-paid running backs in the NFL entering the 2022 season, but that could change during the course of the 2022 free agency period.
With Conner’s new contract keeping him in Arizona and likely pushing running mate Chase Edmonds out the door, Conner will enter the 2022 season at the Cardinals starting running back.