Tagged in: backfield

Eagles claim former Lions second-round running back Kerryon Johnson off waivers

The Philadelphia Eagles have taken a flyer on Kerryon Johnson, claiming the former second-round pick off waivers from the Detroit Lions.

Philadelphia adds Johnson to a crowded backfield as the Eagles will pick up the remaining salary on his rookie deal, a cap number of $2,069,359 for 2021 (the final year of his rookie contract). 

Johnson electrified the NFL as a rookie in 2018, rushing for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 10 matches. He became just the 10th rookie since the AFL-NFL merger to average 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie campaign (minimum 100 carries).

Johnson had a chance to become the featured back in 2019, but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry while rushing for 403 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. 

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A meniscus tear in his right knee altered his season in 2019, one year after a knee strain caused him to miss the final six games in his rookie season.

Relegated to third on the Lions’ depth chart, Johnson had 52 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 (averaging 3.5 yards per carry). He has 1,225 rushing yards and and 527 receiving yards in three seasons (4.3 yards per carry). 

Where Johnson fits in the Eagles’ plan at running back will be determined.

Philadelphia has Miles Sanders as the No. 1 running back, but there are spots on the depth chart open for competition. 

Boston Scott and 2021 fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell will compete for playing time on the depth chart, but the Eagles also signed Jordan Howard this offseason on a non-guaranteed deal. The Eagles also have Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins Jr., and Elijah Holyfield on the 90-man roster. 

Johnson should find a way to make the roster and receive snaps if he’s healthy. How Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni will use him in the rotation will be one of the intriguing storylines of offseason minicamp. 

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Arizona Cardinals sign ex-Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner

The Arizona Cardinals added much-needed depth in the backfield on Tuesday when they agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner.

Conner, 25, will be paired with Chase Edmonds to form the Cardinals’ 2021 backfield. It’s expected that they’ll share reps and responsibilities in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense that asks running backs to be both rushers and receivers.

Conner will reunite with Cardinals running backs coach James Saxon, who was his position coach in Pittsburgh in 2017 and 2018. He received a one-year, $1.75 million contract, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.25 million salary fully guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Connor went to the Pro Bowl in 2018 under Saxon’s guidance after rushing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, tied for the third most in the NFL that season, and while catching 55 passes for 497 yards and a touchdown in 13 matches.

Arizona was in need of another running back after letting Kenyan Drake go in free agency. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Conner, 25, joins the Cardinals after spending the past four campaigns with the Steelers. In 50 career games (33 starts), he rushed for 2,302 yards and 22 touchdowns on 532 carries (4.3-yard average) and caught 124 passes for 963 yards and four touchdowns.

A third-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018, Conner becomes the latest well-known veteran to join the Cardinals.

The team previously signed edge rusher J.J. Watt, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, wide receiver A.J. Green, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, cornerback Malcolm Butler, a two-time Super Bowl champion, along with kicker Matt Prater, guard Brian Winters and safety Shawn Williams.

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RB Tevin Coleman first San Francisco 49ers free agent to join coach Robert Saleh’s New York Jets

Addressing their thin backfield, the New York Jets agreed to terms Wednesday with former San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $2 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coleman will be reunited with Jets coach Robert Saleh and several assistants, all of whom left San Francisco after the season. After a few failed attempts over the past week, Saleh finally landed a 49ers free agent.

Coleman joins a relatively unproven backfield that incorporates Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams, none of whom has rushed for more than 511 yards in a season.

There’s also a good chance the Jets will draft a running back. The Jets plan to run the 49ers’ offense under new coordinator Mike LaFleur, a former San Francisco assistant, so Coleman will be familiar with the scheme.

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Coleman’s best year was 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons, when he ran for 800 yards in a contract year.

He rushed for 544 yards on the 49ers’ NFC championship team in 2019, but 2020 was a washout because of injuries.

In Week 2 versus the Jets, Coleman suffered a sprained knee that landed him on injured reserve. He was one of several 49ers players to get injured that day at MetLife Stadium, prompting complaints from the team about the quality of the turf.

Coleman sprained a knee later in the season and wound up playing only 63 offensive snaps in eight matches. He was limited to 53 yards on 28 carries (1.9 average) and no touchdowns.

It will be a new-look backfield for the Jets, whose leading rusher last season was Frank Gore, 37, a free agent who might retire.

The Jets also made a move on defense, signing former Philadelphia Eagles pass-rusher Vinny Curry to a one-year, $1.3 million contact. Curry, who turns 33 on June 30, projects as a situational rusher.

He recorded three sacks and 10 quarterbacks hits in 11 games last season. In nine seasons, including eight with the Eagles, he has 32.5 career sacks.

The Jets, one of the most active teams in free agency, have signed 11 players.

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