It looks like James Conner's road with the Pittsburgh Steelers has finally come to an end. Conner has decided to sign with the Arizona Cardinals who gave him a one-year, $1.7 million dollar contract in the 2021 offseason. The offseason has been extremely slow for Conner as he only had interest from the New York Jets who decided to sign another running back instead. That opened up the door for the Cardinals to lock him up on a friendly deal. Both sides will benefit as the Cardinals get a running back who can run alongside Chase Edmonds and it will give Conner an opportunity to revive his career outside of Pittsburgh.
It looks like the Steelers had no intention of bringing James Conner back. At least that is what Gerry Dulac implied during his recent Steelers Chat for 3.14.21. He was recently asked why Ballage was signed in Pittsburgh, but Conner ended up going to Arizona for peanuts. Dulac says "Ballage signed one year for $920,000. And I've said many times here the past month or two in our chats, the Steelers want to fix their running game. It started with the coaches, and it would include changing the scheme, technique, and PERSONNEL. You shouldn't be surprised. And, for the last time, correct....they had no interest in bringing him back."
So now the only two teams in the NFL that really had an interest in James Conner were the Jets and Cardinals. That is a big fall from grace after being the Starter in Pittsburgh for many seasons and it shows how running backs are not valuable in the NFL... Well at least running backs who can't stay healthy on the field and play for a full season. Conner has not played a full season in the NFL so far and it remains to be seen if he can. Running alongside Edmonds in Arizona will give him the opportunity to recover a bit more rather than being the bell-cow like he was in Pittsburgh.
At the end of the day, James Conner is an incredible story, a great person, but he just can't stay on the football field. So the Steelers decided to make a business decision that is best for their organization and that was not to bring back James Conner in 2021.
Expect the Steelers to draft their premier running back in the first or second round of the 2021 NFL draft because they're finally committed to bringing back their physical running game to Pittsburgh.