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Arizona Cardinals: Edgerrin James Released, Where to Now?

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Arizona Cardinals: Edgerrin James Released, Where to Now?
(Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)
Just this past week, the Arizona Cardinals and running back Edgerrin James parted ways when the team released the 10-year veteran. Certainly this takes no one by surprise.
As far back as last season, when James was replaced in the starting lineup by running back Tim Hightower, many speculated 2008 would be Edge’s last season in the desert. Even James knew that much. The move will save the team $5 million of cap space.

When the postseason ended for the Cards, again it was highly speculated that the team would eventually release James, but few figured it would come after the draft. So hearing this news becomes less of a shock for any football prognosticator and analyst, but where he could end up will likely be open to much debate.
As I take a look at this situation concerning James, I have a thought that comes to mind. With James now on the free market, there will be a few teams taking a look and by the sounds of it, he’s already drawing some interest.
At 30 years of age (he’ll turn 31 in August), there’s not going to be too many landing spots offering him a starting gig, but it’s certainly possible he could find work as a backup.

There is, however, one destination I could see James finding, where a starting gig could be waiting—Kansas City. Like the Cards, the Chiefs are still holding a rather expensive commodity in their backfield and could be looking to part ways soon.

Troubled star running back Larry Johnson is at the end of his welcome rope in KC and now that James is available, that could be all the Chiefs and head coach Todd Haley need to make this move. Remember, James played for Haley in Arizona.

What makes sense here to me, the reason Johnson is not gone yet, is that before the draft the Chiefs only had L.J. sharing a backfield with a handful of undersized running backs (Charles & Savage).
The team still has Kolby Smith and did draft Javarris Williams (a rookie from a small school—Tennessee State), but neither of these two are familiar with the new offense.

Earlier this offseason, the Chiefs won a grievance against Johnson that basically opened the door to his release from the team without any cap hits. What has likely stopped the team from making this move is the lack of better options in the backfield.

Without Johnson, the teams lacks an inside runner that can handle the punishment. Smith may get a shot this offseason to earn some carries and with Williams likely a long shot to even make the team as a seventh round pick, the choices are far and few between.
Charles and Savage have quickness and speed to bounce it outside, but both backs are too small to be every down runners.

James is familiar with Haley’s system and can give the Chiefs the larger inside runner they will need in the red-zone and for short yardage. Charles and Savage, with their smaller sizes and quickness, would give the team a needed change of pace.

The biggest invitation to making this move today is the price tag. James, now a free agent, would likely come with a huge discount, while L.J. still commands a rather hefty salary (nearly $4 million in 2009).
Unless Johnson is willing to renegotiate, this far-fetched idea may start to look very good, very quickly to the Chiefs' front office.

These are just my thoughts, while we’re talking some football, but why not?

By David G. Ortega
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