The Arizona Cardinals are expected to make further changes during the 2023 NFL offseason. This should come as no surprise given the number of roster spots still available. Of course, they may do so through the draft or by continuing to scout the market for other possible free agents. Here we'll look at the biggest roster need of the Cardinals after the first week of the 2023 NFL free agency period.

The Cardinals had a disappointing 2022 season. They finished 4-13 and placed last in the NFC West. The team will face significant challenges going into the 2023 season as they have a new head coach, Jonathan Gannon. Additionally, their starting quarterback, Kyler Murray, may miss the start of the season due to injury recovery. With a lot of work to be done, Gannon and new GM Monti Ossenfort are clearly focusing on upgrading the roster during the offseason. This is to address the team's issues, including a lackluster scoring offense and a struggling defense.

So far, they've added WR Zach Pascal, OT Kelvin Beachum, OG Will Hernandez, and LB Kyzir White, among others. That said, this team still has some spots to fill, especially in their backfield.

Let's look at the most significant roster need of the Cardinals after the first week of free agency.

Shore up the backfield

The Cardinals have multiple areas in need of improvement across their position groups, including the running back position. Presently, the team has only two running backs under contract for the upcoming season. The first one is James Conner, who is signed through 2024 and will definitely return as almost all of his 2023 salary is guaranteed. The second one is Keaontay Ingram. His current situation is quite different from Conner's because Ingram was drafted by the previous management team. In addition, the current coaching staff has no prior experience with him. Does that mean he's on the trading block or will be kept in the dog house? We'll just have to see.

Now, Conner actually did well in 2022. He led the team with 782 rushing yards on 183 carries. He averaged 60.2 rushing yards per game and had seven rushing touchdowns total. Conner will enter his seventh pro season in 2023. Despite his strong performance, the Cardinals decided to keep five running backs on their roster for the 2022 season. This included Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin, Jonathan Ward, and Ingram, all of whom earned a place on the opening-day roster. We expect them to add a couple more RBs to the depth chart this summer. Right now, among the running backs still available are Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, David Johnson, and Jerick McKinnon.

Let's begin with Ezekiel Elliott's situation. Keep in mind that he is currently on the hunt for a new team in the NFL following his release from the Dallas Cowboys. Last season, Elliott played in 15 games and recorded 231 carries, 876 rushing yards, and 12 touchdowns. However, his involvement in the passing game significantly decreased. In fact, he had his fewest targets in his seven-year career, catching only 17 of 23 targets for a mere 92 yards. The Cowboys franchise tagged him but opted to release him at the start of the free agency period. That was due to salary cap constraints. Yes, it is unlikely that he will sign with the Cardinals. Still, they should consider exploring the possibility.

In addition to Elliott, the Cardinals may find value in Leonard Fournette. His skill set, particularly his ability to make short-yardage runs between the tackles, could be an asset in Arizona. Fournette has a career average of four yards per rush attempt, with only one lost fumble in 79 games. Standing at 6'0 and weighing 228 pounds, he could be an excellent complement to Conner in the Cardinals' backfield.

Moving on to David Johnson, who showed immense promise with the Cardinals seven years ago. In 2016, he amassed 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns during his 16 starts. However, he has struggled to replicate these impressive numbers since then. Recall that he was traded to the Houston Texans as part of a deal for DeAndre Hopkins in 2020. Johnson spent two seasons with the Texans before joining the New Orleans Saints in 2022.

He is now 31 years old and past his prime. Despite that, Johnson could still provide some production in a complementary role next season. Although his decline is evident, it's not unreasonable to believe that the former Cardinals running back can still contribute in some capacity.

Finally, we have Jerick McKinnon. This guy is a veteran running back who helped the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII just last month. He is certainly another player the Cardinals could target. Take note that Jonathan Gannon was the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator at that time. He got a close look at McKinnon's abilities during that game. The 30-year-old running back showcased his impressive pass-catching skills during his 17 appearances for the Chiefs last season. Remember that he amassed 56 receptions, 512 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns in 2022.

Having a running back who can catch passes out of the backfield can be a valuable asset for any offensive team. However, the Cardinals may face competition from the Chiefs, who would likely want to retain McKinnon. Therefore, the Cardinals may need to offer more to sign him.