Can Cardinals Conner Defy NFL Running Back Age Constraints In 2023?

Can Cardinals Conner Defy NFL Running Back Age Constraints In 2023?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Fewer and fewer running backs in today’s NFL have managed to compete at the sport’s top level after they complete a few years in the league, spurring front office members to rein in spending on free agents.

For the Arizona Cardinals, questions around whether seventh-year back James Conner can keep up his current level of production as he enters his age-28 season are bound to pop up, especially after the former Pittsburgh back saw his touchdown total plummet (from 15 to seven) last year.

Those questions, and many more, have made the Cardinals outlook at Arizona sports betting sites very bleak.

With Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley and Tony Pollard not being offered long-term contracts, are NFL running backs not being paid enough for the value they bring?

BetArizona.com utilized ProFootballReference.com to shift through running back stats for yards per game and touchdowns to find the Top 25 RBs from the 2018 season until the 2022 season. We utilized 28 years or older as the age benchmark for the research.

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Life as an Older NFL Running Back

YearNumber of 28+ RBs in Top 25 Rushing Yards Per GameNumber of 28+ RBs in Top 25 Rushing TDs Per Game
20181 of 25 (4%)3 of 25 (12%)
20193 of 25 (12%)3 of 25 (12%)
20202 of 25 (8%)3 of 25 (12%)
20211 of 25 (4%)3 of 25 (12%)
20224 of 25 (16%)3 of 25 (12%)
TOTAL11 of 125 (8.8%)15 of 125 (12%)

Arizona sports betting apps lists Christian McCaffrey with the best odds of any running back to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors. At 27, McCaffrey is at +8000, behind 24 quarterbacks.

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Can Conner Defy NFL’s RB Age Concerns?

Despite a sharp decline in rushing touchdowns, the 2022 season wasn’t a total wash for Conner — who saw his year-end rushing yardage total climb (from 752 to 782) and his yards per carry figure climb (from 3.7 to 4.3).

Still, among the 25 NFL running backs that entered the season at or above Conner’s current age last season, only four (16%) finished in the top 25 of all backs in rushing yards per game. Even lower were the backs aged 28 or older that finished in the top 25 of the NFL’s rushing touchdowns per game leaders (three) — illustrating how hard a hill it is to keep at it in today’s NFL as a running back after hitting that age-28 season.

Still, Conner has a shot at eclipsing his two-year rushing yards (767) and touchdowns per season average (11) this fall, with the team’s offense likely to lean heavily on the veteran as quarterback Kyler Murray returns from an ACL tear.

When using Arizona sportsbook promos, you’ll only find long odds on the Cardinals this season.

BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona gives the Cardinals the worst Super Bowl odds in the NFL at +20000.

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Author

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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