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Add running back Darrel Williams to the latest list of “Steve Keim Specials.”
According to Jordan Schultz, the Arizona Cardinals are adding the former Kansas City Chiefs running back on a one-year deal.
The move won’t break the bank for the salary cap-strung Cards, and it’s a significant addition of a veteran player at a low price that could pay off big for the team this season.
Williams steps into the role vacated by Chase Edmonds, who signed a two-year, $12.6-million contract this March with the Miami Dolphins. He’s a change-of-pace back who can spell James Conner and handle the bulk of passing downs in the Cardinals backfield.
It’s not absurd to believe that Williams is an upgrade to Edmonds.
Break out the Spider-man pointing at Spider-man meme when examining the running backs’ games. Edmonds and Williams are very similar.
Both running backs had over 500 yards rushing last season, with Williams having only 150 more receiving yards than Edmonds with a few more games in 2021. Williams surpassed 1,000 total yards from scrimmage. They share an almost identical Pro Football Focus grade of over 67.
Williams separates himself from Edmonds in crucial areas, including the receiving game. He averaged 9.6 yards per reception last season to Edmonds’ 7.2 and was incredibly efficient, hauling in 82.5 percent of his targets.
Williams is more of a threat around the goal line. The Super Bowl champion cashed in touchdowns on 6 of 19 carries in 2021 inside the 10-yard line. He had eight total touchdowns last season — an area where Edmonds has been a non-factor during his career. James Conner was incredible in close last season, but the addition of Williams should help keep him fresh and healthy.
Adding another reliable running back after inking Conner to a three-year, $21 million deal was critical. Conner’s health is the biggest key with the Williams signing. During his first season in the desert, Conner thrived by scoring 18 total touchdowns in a career-best 15 games. When the Cards leaned on Conner while Edmonds nursed an ankle injury, the increased workload took a toll. Before joining the Cardinals, Conner had played in 10 and 13 games the prior two seasons due to various injuries.
Williams comes heavily recommended by his former quarterback in Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes. The superstar quarterback told Schultz that he liked Williams and was his most trusted running back.
The 27-year-old brings a ton of playoff experience and a ring from his four-year stint in KC, where Williams had to earn everything after signing as an undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2018.
Williams rounds out the Cardinals’ running back room as the clear-cut RB2 behind Conner. Rookie sixth-round pick Keaontay Ingram and third-year back Eno Benjamin will battle it out this training camp and preseason for the third running back role.
Arizona’s running back room becomes one of the stronger position groups on the roster, along with tight end and quarterback. Credit Steve Keim for adding similar production and playoff experience at half the price post-free agency.
Williams can join the likes of John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote, Eric Winston and Tramon Williams — vets that Keim kicked the tires on and they contributed in big ways during the regular season.
Long live the “Steve Keim Special.”
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