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Be the Broncos GM: Running Back Roundtable

In which either Big Pete loses his mind, or we relent to not being able to follow the thought processes of a genius.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle: Knowshon Moreno appears headed for the free agent hills, leaving Montee Ball to be the "guy" moving forward. Still, some names out there intrigue me, like Indy's Donald Brown or Auburn's Tre Mason, but I'm not sure how RB depth ranks among the team needs. I'd put it lower on my list. How does everyone else think the RB position should be addressed?

Pete: The Broncos have their franchise running back currently on their roster. Sure, I know that teams love to have a 2nd option, but honestly, that second option that forms a semi-RRBC (running back by committee) will only see 6-8 carries the entire game.

That isn't a whole hell of a lot if you ask me, and it's nothing that CJ Anderson or a mid/late round RB couldn't handle. If the Broncos keep Ronnie Hillman, then he could probably handle that duties as well.

I think it would be foolish to spend anywhere above a 5th round pick on a RB this year or any more than the vet minimum to bring in a RB.

There is talk about MJD or CJ2K or Donald Brown out there, but c'mon man, MJD is a year past his expiration date, so I really don't think you'd get much more out of him than you will CJ Anderson. Plus, I don't think MJD would be willing to accept a 6-8 carry per game role. He'll demand Knowshon Moreno money because of the name on his back even though at this juncture, Moreno is actually the better back (who'd have ever thought anybody would ever say that?).

CJ2K is a basket case who has talent, but is like a streaky NBA player. He's either on or he's off; And he's been off as of late. Donald Brown is a good backup, but we have a good backup in CJ Anderson. And even if you don't like Anderson (5.4ypc), what does it matter? He won't be asked to be THE running back. He'll be asked to be Montee's replacement when he's tired.

This all leads me to saying that the Broncos should stand pat and only add a vet minimum free agent or late round draft pick. Running back just isn't a need on this team. Plus, Elway loves the workhorse backs which is a big bright bat signal type spotlight that reads "We won't use a RRBC!"

Kyle: I'm not ready to call C.J. Anderson a good backup. I wouldn't mind adding some depth here. One Montee Ball injury and we're looking at the bottom of the barrel.

Pete: You can say that about almost every position on the team though. One Peyton Manning injury and we're looking at the bottom of the barrel. But you don't see the Broncos signing a quality QB to back Manning up do you? Brock is LESS proven than CJ Anderson, and apparently they are just fine in letting that carry on, so why not be fine with letting a much less vital position carry on too?

You simply can't think "injury" in this case. You just can't. There's nothing wrong with quality depth "just in case", but if you go into a season expecting injuries, then you'll be looking for a new job (coaches I mean). Moreno would cost the same as MJD simply because of the name stitched on the back of their jerseys. And at this point, I'd much rather have Moreno. He knows the system, is in the prime of his career, and is a great blocker. None of those things can be said about MJD or really CJ2k, and Donald Brown is as unproven as CJ Anderson in my eyes.

So if you go into this season expecting an injury, just re-sign Knowshon and let the chips fall where they may.

I should clarify; Every team knows there will be injuries throughout the season, but you can't "coach scared" by reaching for players because you expect certain players to go down. All coaches and GMs know injuries happen which is why they add depth every year, but you don't go into a season saying "Ok, Montee will go down, who do we have to step in?" or "Peyton will go down week 12, who do we have that can get it done until he heals?" Coaches just don't think that way and for good reason. Neither should we. And besides, I'm the GM here which is why I'm sticking with CJ Anderson and maybe Ronnie Hillman (although if I'm the real GM, his ass is traded for a backup punter for all I care). I'm not paying a dime over the vet minimum for any RB out there, and I'm not spending more than a 5th round pick for any rookie either. If I was, I'd just sign Moreno to back up Montee.

Ian: I agree with Kyle, we are one injury away from, 'Oh my God' territory. The issue for me is that the second or third best free agent running back available is Knowshon Moreno. Ben Tate is also going to be able to test free agency and undoubtedly over paid by someone. Where I would focus my attention is on Rashad Jennings if he is allowed to leave Oakland unsigned, I would swoop in and nab him. He's a good back and capable of doing 1,500-1,600 yards. He's not going to cost $10 million and he has stepped up and wrecked shop every opportunity that he has been given.

Mike: Montee Ball heads into his sophomore season as the man. He ran hard last season and showed the ability to get tough yardage. He has good vision and should do well in his 2nd season.

As far as a replacement for Knowshon, the cheaper the better. Go out and get some aging two-threat player like Ronnie Brown and get him cheap. You want veteran leadership and the ability to start games in case of injury, not a 20-25 touch per week workhorse.

Montee Ball heads into his sophomore season as the man. He has good vision and should do well in his 2nd season.

However the Broncos approach free agency with the running back situation, they have to field a better product than they did in 13'. The running game was a no-show in the postseason and one of the biggest reasons why the offense struggled mightily in the Super Bowl.

Kyle: I would hardly blame the running game. I would blame the gameplan itself. particularly the offense's execution of its passing game.

I think the Broncos would do well to add a veteran presence behind Montee Ball but move in 2013 with the idea that it's Ball's job to lose.

Topher: I agree with Kyle that the run game wasn't a huge issue in the Super Bowl, especially not in the playoffs. In the 1st half Moreno averaged 3.4 YPC, low but the Broncos got down early and he only had 5 attempts, the run game could have been averaging 5 YPC and it wouldn't have mattered. Also in the previous two playoff games the Broncos averaged 3.9 YPC, not great but hardly bad, they also topped 100 rushing yards in both games.

I also agree that the job in Montee's to lose, but it was the same last year with Hillman and Montee expected to be the starters but both lost that job, if the Broncos bring in a competent vet, I wouldn't rule them out as starting just yet. I expect Montee to start, but after last training camp and pre-season, I wouldn't be surprised to see a heavy rotation in 2014.

Christopher: There is no doubt that the Broncos drafted Montee Ball last season with the intentions of being our running back of the future -- he had a very impressive college career heralded with accolades and really improved as a runner towards the end of the season. However, I agree with the rest of my colleagues in the belief that we are one injury away from disaster at this point in time. If Ball did go down, we would have to rely on Ronnie Hillman, who was relegated to bench duty for most of the season and C.J. Anderson -- an undrafted player who has limited NFL experience. The Broncos cannot afford to be a one dimensional team in 2014 and they would be wise to add another back to the stable.

As a huge Knowshon Moreno fan, I wish there was a way we could re-sign him as he is a great player who makes an impact on all three downs. It is hard to find guys like that in free agency because it isn't often that players of that caliber hit the open market. Like Ian stated -- I too am a big fan of Rashad Jennings. He was one of my favorite backs coming out in the year he was drafted. Not only is he a hard runner, he is a solid receiver out of the backfield and could help compensate for the loss of Moreno at a much more reasonable price. If the value presents itself, I wouldn't be opposed to the Broncos drafting a back sometime in this draft. A versatile player like Dri Archer or Devonte Freeman in the mid-rounds would be an excellent addition for this franchise.

Pete: Are you all seriously sticking to that tired old mantra "1 injury away from catastrophe?!?!" I guess you're right, we are 1 injury away from disaster; But that injury isn't to anybody who plays running back. The only "1 injury away" player on our team that would sink us is to Manning. So hey, might as well ring up Brett Favre as an insurance policy to Manning. Why go with an unproven guy to lead our team at the sports most vital of positions? If it's so blasphemous to do that with the RB position, then I'm sure we'd all get struck down by lightning for allowing it to happen with the QB position, right?

Kyle: Earth to Pete. We're talking about running backs.

Pete: I know, that's why I'm so shocked that you all are talking disaster if a hypothetical happens.

Kyle: So you'll close your eyes, cover your ears, and ignore the running back position?

Tim: LOL... That is all.

Just kidding. The Broncos need to draft a back in later rounds. Montee Ball will be The Man in 2014.

Christopher: *insert Billy Madison quote on all of us being dumber for have hearing that*

Jk. Love you Pete!

Kyle: Pete I'll let you have the last word if you drop Brett Favre, actually talk about the running back position, and not mince our words about "disaster." :) What would you do at RB if you were the GM?

Mike: I love you Pete, but you make my head hurt. The Broncos have to add someone to the roster and it has nothing to do with a disastrous injury to the potential #1 guy.

And yes, the coach's job is to worry about such injuries because if Elway had not built depth on this squad like last season, we don't even make the Super Bowl.

Pete: So address it like I said, with a late round draft pick or vet minimum free agent. We don't need a "named" free agent because that person won't get many carries. I'm not gonna talk about Ball getting hurt any more than other players getting hurt. You have to put together the best team available within fiscal confines. I'd much rather spend the money on signing starters than backups or backups to backups. Sure you need bodies, but get cheap bodies, not expensive ones.