Arizona Cardinals: Missing Pieces That the Cardinals Can Get Now

Andrew NordmeierContributor IIIJune 3, 2012

Cardinals fans hope to see Beanie Wells healthy again in 2012.
Cardinals fans hope to see Beanie Wells healthy again in 2012.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Every NFL team has a missing piece or two, and the Arizona Cardinals are no exception.

The Arizona Cardinals' missing piece is depth at the running back position. This is something they can still get resolved through free agency.

Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are both coming off of knee surgeries. Wells played through his knee issue last season, while Williams didn't make it out of the preseason before rupturing his patella tendon.

Arizona didn't draft any running backs, nor did any get brought in as undrafted free agents. The question presents itself: Who can the Cardinals turn to and fill this piece of the puzzle?

Looking on the current roster, LaRod Stephens-Howling has the explosiveness and speed everyone loves in a running back. Could he hold up between the tackles given his small size if he had to carry the load?

Alfonso Smith and Javarris James are on the roster but are marginal options.

There are a couple of free agents the Cardinals could be looking at now as insurance in Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant.

Benson is available despite his legal baggage that comes with him, but he'd be a bargain back at the veterans' minimum of $825,000. According to Joe Reedy on Twitter, the ship has sailed on Benson going back to the Bengals.

Each of the last three seasons, he rushed for more than 1,050 yards and six touchdowns. If Wells or Williams got hurt, Benson has proven he can be the feature back for a team.

According to Alex Marvez on Twitter, Benson has yet to have met with any teams about signing and expects to be part of a two-back rotation.

Ryan Grant is another interesting option as well.

Grant had consecutive 1,200-yard seasons in 2008 and 2009. He tore ankle ligaments in the first game of the 2010 season and missed the rest of the season. Last season he missed time with a bruised kidney.

Grant had a visit scheduled with Detroit but cancelled it, according to 540 ESPN Milwaukee.

There are questions about Grant's durability, but he could give the Cardinals peace of mind knowing they have someone to turn to should injuries happen at the running back position.

We saw five top-flight running backs (Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Fred Jackson) all hit IR last seasonthe risk is always there.

Grant and Benson would be able to provide the Cardinals with low-cost veteran insurance at the running back position.

Despite the uncertainty at quarterback, it's much more difficult to resolve and not as much of a pressing need as running back depth is for the Cards.