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Free-agent RB James Conner visiting Cardinals

Nearly a month after the start of free agency, James Conner is drawing interest.

The running back is visiting the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Conner, who is recovering from offseason toe surgery, will undergo a physical with Arizona, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added. Conner suffered a very moderate turf-toe injury while riding in a recreational vehicle this offseason. The RB is expected to be fully recovered by June, per Rapoport.

Conner's inspiring career saw a high mark in 2018, when he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards for the Steelers, reached the end zone 13 times (12 rushing, one receiving) and earned a Pro Bowl nod just three years after he suffered an MCL tear and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma while at the University of Pittsburgh. Conner's output has been inconsistent since that memorable season, though, leading to an unceremonious exit from the Steelers following the 2020 campaign.

With the Steelers under significant cap constraints and needing to address other positions, it was unlikely Pittsburgh would make an exceptional effort to keep Conner. However, that doesn't mean he doesn't carry value to the right team.

Arizona could be that team, especially after letting Kenyan Drake walk to Las Vegas and currently standing with a backfield led by smaller spell back Chase Edmonds. Conner would be the ideal complement, bringing a bigger ballcarrier to the backfield who could shoulder a larger load, provided he's healthy.

That's been the catch with Conner for most of his career: He's played in at least 10 games in every NFL season, but never more than 14. He carried the load for the Steelers during that Pro Bowl season, logging 215 attempts for 973 yards and scoring 12 rushing touchdowns, but far too often, the focus has been on his injury report status, not his production.

Conner's tale is already one of great achievement, having beaten Hodgkin's lymphoma while in college and rebounding well enough to be selected in the third round of the 2017 draft. His time with the Steelers ended quietly, but that doesn't mean he's out of subsequent opportunities.

The next could come in Arizona, where Pelissero said during Monday's edition of NFL Now that it's unlikely the running back would sign immediately, but the fit makes sense. It could end up simply being a matter of dollars and cents for Conner, who told NFL.com last summer "there's no telling" exactly how long a career in the NFL might last.

We'll see if it continues in the desert.

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