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Cardinals give James Conner a one-year, $1.75 million contract

The market for veteran tailbacks isn’t what it used to be. Then again, it’s never really been all that great.

The Cardinals gave running back James Conner a one-year, $1.75 million contract, according to Adam Schefter of The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus, and the entirety of the deal is fully guaranteed.

Presumably, he would have accepted a similar contract to stay in Pittsburgh, where he played college football and the first four years of his NFL career. Apparently, the Steelers didn’t make a comparable offer.

The one-year contract follows the four-year, $3.242 million slotted deal that Conner signed as a third-round rookie in 2017.

That puts him just south of $5 million for the first five years of his career. While not shabby money, it dispels the notion that all pro football players are rolling in dough. Conner is at the lower end of the salary structure, despite playing one of the most physically demanding positions in the sport. And given the time it took to get his one-year deal for 2021, it’s likely he’ll be trying to get the same kind of contract a year from now.

This isn’t to knock Conner’s pay or his ability or effort. It is what it is. Dollar for dollar, however, Conner has more than earned what he’s gotten. He’s been banged up, beaten up, tossed around. And he’s not getting the kind of money in his mid-20s that will carry him for the next 60 or 70 years.

UPDATE 5:55 a.m. 4/14/21: The initial version of this post, based on Schefter’s initial tweet, said that it was a $1.25 million deal. Schefter has issued a correction, making it $1.75 million.