Arizona Cardinals To Target Ryan Mathews?


Dec 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) walks off the field as the New England Patriots celebrate their 23-14 win at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The season for the Arizona Cardinals ended about a week ago, but the speculation has already begun on who the team can pick up in free agency during the offseason.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland wrote an article about the four teams which were eliminated during Wild Card weekend and some of the things that they’ll need to address during the offseason. In regards to the Cards, Barnwell, of course, talked about the Larry Fitzgerald situation and how the Cardinals could be in the market for a running back.

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"Paying big money for running backs isn’t exactly a popular move these days, but the Cardinals will likely want to build around their rushing attack in 2015, given their investment in offensive linemen over the past two seasons and the uncertain status of (Carson) Palmer after his second ACL tear. The Cardinals got a very limited season from Andre Ellington, who played through a foot injury and averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt. Ellington may end up looking better as a secondary option in a time-share (as he was in 2013), which would leave the Cardinals in the market for a starting tailback."

It’s no secret that the Cardinals run game was just awful. Arizona averaged just under 82 yards per contest, good for second worst in all of the league. Only the lowly Oakland Raiders were worse.

This free agent running back class is a pretty solid group, but the name that Barnwell mention is intriguing; Ryan Mathews.

"(Steve) Keim is a value-conscious shopper, and Mathews is a Pro Bowl–caliber back at the nadir of his value after missing 10 games this year with an ankle injury."

Barnwell does have a valid point. With having only played 10 games and 74 carries this season, Mathews won’t have the leverage in contract negotiations. He more than likely would take a short-term deal in order to prove to a team he can stay healthy to build his value.

When Mathews is right, he’s a darn good football player.

He’s just a year removed where he had more than 1,400 total yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games with the Chargers. During his second season in the league in 2011, the former Fresno State product had more than 1,500 total yards in only 14 games, so he’s very productive when healthy.

I’m just not entirely sure if signing a guy of Mathews caliber is a dire need for this football team. I’m not sold about Ellington being an every down back, but bringing Mathews in could take away several touches from ‘Dre, something I’m not a big fan of.

I like how Kerwynn Williams emerged at the end of the season as well. During the final four weeks of the regular season, the undrafted second-year player out of Utah State had 246 rush yards on only 53 carries, good for 4.6 yards a carry. I’d like to see a little more of him and signing Mathews would jeopardize that.

I like Mathews, but in today’s era of the salary cap and with all the big roster decisions that this organization has to make this offseason, it’s hard to see the Cards making a move for a guy like Mathews.