Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did not dismiss the idea that, while rookie running back Tim Hightower’s playing time will increase, veteran Edgerrin James‘ will decrease.
“I think we’ve shown we’re going to go with the players that give us the best chance to win,” Whisenhunt said. “We did that with the quarterback, we did that at linebacker, we did that with the offensive line. So if we feel Tim gives us the best chance to win, then absolutely.”
But this is the smaller issue compared to the more significant one. While James now is expected to lose some carries the rest of this season, he well could be losing his job in Arizona after this season.
James is scheduled to make $5 million in base salary next year. It is difficult to imagine the Cardinals — or any team for that matter — paying a veteran, whose carries are dropping, that much money for a given season. There are starting running backs who do not make $5 million in base salary.
Now if James is married to the idea of playing in Arizona –- and this is a bit difficult to imagine considering his love of south Florida -– then the two sides might be able to craft some type of compromise that would enable him to finish his career in the desert. But if not, James could be moving on next season, though this past off-season provided proof of how challenging it can be for veteran running backs to find work.
Former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander missed all of training camp and did not land a job with Washington until long after this season had started. It will be interesting to see where James winds up next season. But based on the way events are going this season, it doesn’t look like Arizona.