The Cardinals have made a consistent habit of picking up former Pittsburgh Steelers since Coach Whisenhunt moved to Arizona from the Burgh. The list includes the likes of Sean Morey, Chukky Okobi, Brian St. Pierre, Clark Haggans and Jerame Tuman among others. Their dedication to becoming the 'Steelers of the West' could be tested with the Steelers most recent cuts though. The Steelers made news over the weekend when they cut backup running back Najeh Davenport, along with three other rarely used players. Since we've looked at nearly every other free agent running back, here's a quick look at whether or not Davenport would thrive in Arizona.
Why he'd be the right guy: Make no mistake about it, Najeh Davenport is the definition of a career backup. In six NFL seasons, he's started a total of 3 regular season games (one playoff game) and hasn't ever really even pushed a starter for playing time. He's almost a 'tweener' type of back because of his mix of size (nearly 250 pounds) and his speed (had at least one 40 yard carry in 5 of 6 seasons). During the 2007 season, he flourished as the Steelers change of pace back and short yardage/goal line specialist. He ended the season with a career highs in carries (107), yards (499), rushing touchdowns (5), receptions (18), and receiving touchdowns (2). He also contributes on special teams and was even was the Steelers top kickoff returner in 2006. All of that and he's still not 30 years old (turned 29 in February). I'll grant you that nothing he does is spectacular but just consider that the backup duo of Shipp and Arrington have combined for 179 yards in 2007 & 2006 combined.
Why he'd be square peg in this round hole: Even though Davenport would be an upgrade over either Shipp or Arrington, the problem with him coming to the desert is that his game closely resembles both Edge and Hightower. He excels when running between the tackles and has the size to get two yards when you need one, but that's also what Edge and Hightower do well. Najeh excelled in Pittsburgh because he was a complimentary change of pace back to 'Fast' Willie Parker, but that wouldn't be his role here. The Cardinals may also want to keep away from Davenport because him coming in would take snaps away from Tim Hightower and at least to this point, they sound very encouraged by his abilities.
In the end, I doubt that the Cardinals make a serious run at Davenport, but if they did it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Signing Davenport would mean that either Shipp or Arrington would simultaneously have to be cut (which I'd be all for), but I'd want his role to be clearly defined and somewhat limited. If they brought him in I'd hope that his role would be limited to kickoff returns (partnered with Breaston) and a third down back. That wouldn't cut into Hightower's development too much and would allow the Cardinals to upgrade their running back stable. So I pose the question to you, are you interested in yet another Steeler? Would he be a good fit here and where would rank on your 'wish list' of free agent backs?