Can Running Back James Conner Aid Lions' Offense?

Should the Detroit Lions sign running back James Conner?
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Detroit Lions have targeted several players in free agency that have something to prove and who fit the new culture the organization is trying to establish. 

Nine of the players signed this offseason have agreed to one-year deals with a new regime led by head coach Dan Campbell. 

One of the running backs still available in free agency that has not received a lot of attention so far is James Conner. 

Prior to signing Tevin Coleman, the New York Jets were reportedly interested in signing the Pittsburgh Steelers running back.

There are also several other talented free agent running backs still available, including Todd Gurley, Duke Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell. 

Many pundits have expressed that Conner is the best remaining back on the market.

According to CBS Sports, "You could probably sign three or four of these guys and make them capable Day One starters. The problem is, you can probably find equal talents in the middle rounds of the draft. Conner (25) and Gurley (26) are both young but carry medical baggage. The best bets might be the lesser names, like Johnson, Gallman and Burkhead, as short-term complementary backs."

conner5

Detroit's offense currently features D'Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams and Kerryon Johnson. 

Despite being drafted in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Johnson has struggled with injuries during the early portion of his career. He was relegated to a third-down blocking back in 2020 and could be on his way out of Motown.

Conner's backstory could also prove to be appealing to Detroit's new regime. 

From battling to cancer to earning the starting role for the Steelers, Conner has the makeup of a player Detroit is currently looking for. 

However, his career production has been inconsistent,  and he has battled numerous injuries the past few seasons. 

In 2018, Conner played in 13 games and rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns while securing 55 receptions on 71 targets for 497 yards and a touchdown.

In 2019, he appeared in just 10 games -- rushing for only 464 yards and four touchdowns.

In 2020, Conner suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and tested positive for the coronavirus. 

He also dealt with a quad injury which limited him later in the season. Both his production and his rushing attempts plummeted, as the Steelers modified their rushing attack and featured other backs on the roster.

Detroit could make Conner a veteran minimum offer of approximately $990,000 on a one-year, prove-it deal. 

Should the Lions take a flier on the 25-year-old running back?

Vote here.

More from SI All Lions:

Roundtable: Which Team Is Most Likely to Call the Lions to Trade Up for No. 7 Pick?

New Jeff Okudah No. 23 Jersey Available To Purchase

3 Late-Round Wide Receivers Lions Could Target in 2021 NFL Draft

Ranking Lions' 5 Best Second-Year Players