Arizona Cardinals may overhaul 2017 running backs group

The Arizona Cardinals’ backup running backs group may look completely different next September due to free agent defections

The starting running back of the Arizona Cardinals, David Johnson, may have some new teammates next season. Because of free agency, as many as three Arizona backs may have new addresses very soon. If that were to happen, reinforcements will be needed.

Because of Johnson’s superb receiving skills, Bruce Arians likes to keep him on the field as much as humanly possible. That becomes a problem for anyone playing behind him. There just aren’t many opportunities for a backup to the Cardinals’ star runner.

A former NFL superstar, Chris Johnson, is one of the three Cards’ backs set to hit the market. It’s not known if Arizona management would even want him back for 2017. He’s missed a good chunk of time the past two years due to injuries, and will turn 32 in September.

Andre Ellington is also set to test the free agent waters. He’s a good change-of-pace back with excellent hands, so the front office may offer him a contract. But there’s a chance that Ellington, a former starter, will desire more playing time than he’ll get in the desert.

Stepfan Taylor has already stated he wants more of a role on offense. In four seasons, Taylor has reached the end zone just four times. But with David Johnson hogging touches, Taylor’s main value to the Cards is on special teams.

Kerwyn Williams showed some explosiveness late last season. He was especially effective out of the “Wildcat” formation, averaging an outstanding 8.7 yards per carry. The club owns his rights for 2017, so there’s a chance he finds his way onto the 53-man roster.

If the position does end up needing replenishing, General Manager Steve Keim has done well finding backs in the draft. David Johnson was a third-round steal in 2015. In 2013, Keim found Taylor in the fifth round, and Ellington in the sixth.

Of course, other clubs’ free agents would also be in play if backs are needed. But with David Johnson entrenched as the starter, getting ball-carriers to come to Arizona may turn out to be a tough sell. Knile Davis, Lance Dunbar, Fozzy Whittaker, Travaris Cadet, Ronnie Hillman, Jonathan Grimes, Shaun Draughn, Bobby Rainey and Robert Turbin could be possibilities.

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