Cardinals claim ex-Jets RB Michael Carter off waivers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals claimed running back Michael Carter on Wednesday, a day after he was waived by the Jets.

Arizona waived offensive lineman Doug Kramer Jr. in the corresponding roster move.

Carter, a former fourth-round pick in 2021, led the Jets in rushing as a rookie. He has seen his production decline in his three NFL seasons from 639 yards and four touchdowns in 2021 to 402 yards and three touchdowns in 2022 to just 38 yards and no touchdowns this season. He was serving as the Jets' third-down running back this season behind starter Breece Hall and veteran backup Dalvin Cook.

The addition gives the Cardinals more depth behind James Conner, who returned Sunday from a knee injury that caused him to miss four games and ran for 73 yards. He leads Arizona with 437 yards on 84 carries. The next closest running back is rookie Emari Demercado with 195 yards on 49 carries.

Carter bolsters a rushing attack that's ranked ninth in the league with 126.5 rushing yards per game and third with 4.77 rushing yards per play.

Looking for a spark for their sputtering offense, the Jets waived Carter in order to activate rookie running back Israel Abanikanda for the first time.

"He's a good young back and we felt like it wouldn't be fair for Michael to just sit there and rot on the bench and ask him to be a great teammate and all that stuff," Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday, explaining why the Jets cut Carter instead of simply making him a healthy scratch.

"Selfishly, you want to hold him on the roster, just in case, but at the same time, they're humans, too, and they want prove that they're capable of doing things in the league," Saleh added. "Sometimes that's what it is."

ESPN's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.