When running back James Conner hit free agency in the spring, his options were "limited," as he put it. After struggling in his final few seasons in Pittsburgh, including missing games due to injury, few teams searched for a between-the-tackles grinder who might not be available every week.
The Cardinals signed Conner to a one-year contract worth just $1.75 million -- i.e., backup-level money.
In the desert, Conner has been rejuvenated. The 26-year-old has generated 555 yards on 146 carries and a whopping 12 TDs. He's also added 18 catches for 173 yards and another score.
After his experience in Arizona, Conner hopes to stick around for longer than just one season.
"Man, I want to win a Super Bowl here," he said, via the Arizona Republic. "I love the weather and everything this team has going and my teammates out here and the coaching staff. I don't see why not, why I wouldn't want to be here. We have all the resources and everything we need to be successful.
"We're going to take it one week at a time first. We've got a big game against Chicago coming up. But after the season, I've got a lot of love for the Cardinals, so we'll see what happens."
Sporting the best record in the NFL at 9-2, the Cards have had their share of injuries this season. Quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) and star receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) have missed multiple games. Starting running back Chase Edmonds currently is on injured reserve with a hurt ankle.
Through it all, Conner has been the consistent, steadying force. The RB's 12 rushing TDs are second-most in the NFL, behind only Jonathan Taylor. Conner's 13 scrimmage TDs are tied for third-most in the league.
The scoring machine became the first player in franchise history with 12 rush TDs in the team's first 11 games of a season (franchise record for full season: 16 rush TD from David Johnson in 2016). With a rushing score Sunday against Chicago, Conner would be the first player in Cards team history with six straight games with at least one rushing TD.
Conner's ability to be more than just a between-the-tackles grinder has surprised even Cards coach Kliff Kingsbury.
"I think they knew I could be a piece in that coming here," Conner said. "But they kept it simple. They just told me they like my style of play. I trusted my plan and my journey, and I also trusted their plan that they had for me. When everyone's on the same page, you get to where we are now. We've still got a long way to go.
"I just came, and I wanted to play my best football. My options were limited. This is the plan. It's the Cardinals. And I wouldn't want to be nowhere else right now."