Another day in the free agency series, another lopsided vote. 96% of you voted that the Arizona Cardinals should definitely keep LaRod Stephens-Howling on the roster by tendering the restricted free agent an offer. His skills both in the return game and as an agile running back definitely make him a candidate to return.
The Cardinals also have another running back's contract to deal with this offseason. They hold the exclusive rights to Alfonso Smith, an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky in 2010. He not only carried the ball out of the backfield for Arizona, but he has been a productive member of the special teams over the past two seasons. So the question is: should the Cardinals keep him around?
Smith only carried the ball 30 times for 102 yards in 2011 for the Cardinals, scoring his lone touchdown in week seven against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense. His 3.4 yards per carry is certainly nothing to get excited over, but then again, it can be somewhat difficult to average much more behind the current offensive line of the Cardinals.
Not only was Smith a contributor in the run game, but he played a prominent role in the special teams phase of the game as well. He had three tackles and only missed one, according to Pro Football Focus. His ability to get downfield in a timely manner makes him a huge asset on both kickoffs and punts.
So is it worth it for the Cardinals to keep Smith on the roster? He only played on 10.7% of the snaps on offense and his production was limited, but it often takes more time on the field for a running back to get going. As stated previously, the Cards do own his exclusive rights and would be able to retain him at a relatively cheap price, so I say why not?
At the very least, Smith will provide an extra body during training camp while Ryan Williams continues to recover from his patella tendon injury. Chester Taylor will more than likely not be rejoining the team next season, so the Cardinals will need a 4th running back anyhow. Smith knows the system and he has excellent speed and good potential, so hopefully with some continued hard work, he can become a solid player for this organization.
What do you think? Should the Cardinals keep Alfonso Smith around? Vote in the poll and please leave your reasoning in the comments section below.