The running back position for the Denver Broncos seems okay heading into this offseason. Melvin Gordon is facing a suspension, though, and Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent. Getting both of them back at least sets them up for next season.
The question is what to do with Lindsay. The Broncos could just tender him for another season or sign him to an extension. There is also the 2021 NFL Draft to consider as they look to bolster the position group beyond just next season.
I talked with Scotty Payne and Joe Rowles this week about this position group and where the Broncos should go this offseason.
Broncos running backs position group
|Bellamy, LeVante||RB||5' 09"||192||24||Signed through 2022|
|Cox, Jeremy||RB||6' 00"||235||24||Signed through 2022|
|Crockett, Damarea||RB||5' 11"||225||23||Signed through 2022|
|Freeman, Royce||RB||5' 11"||229||24||Signed through 2021|
|Gordon, Melvin||RB||6' 01"||215||27||Signed through 2021|
|Lindsay, Phillip||RB||5' 07"||185||26||RFA|
Joe Rowles: So the easy part of the conversation is this year. Phillip Lindsay is a Restricted Free Agent and the Broncos will almost certainly apply a second round tender on him. It amounts to a one year contract worth $3.42 million.
The tricky question becomes 2022+ because Melvin Gordon, Royce Freeman, and Lindsay are free agents.
Scotty Payne: Lindsay is an RFA so he’s fairly cheap to keep around. I personally wouldn’t be upset if they decided to let him walk but the local back will most likely get another year in the Mile High City. Gordon is likely facing a DUI suspension so Lindsay may be leaned on early in the 2021 season.
As for Royce Freeman, he should be on the roster bubble and face some competition this offseason for his spot on the team. As Joe noted, I don’t expect any of these guys to be on the roster in 2022 so I expect a back to be drafted this year.
Joe: It’s going to be interesting to see how Paton prioritizes the position. The Vikings took more backs in the first three rounds than the last four during his tenure. There’s a distinct possibility the Broncos chase a Shurmur back to push Freeman on Day 2 or 3 this year and go after a first round guy in 2022.
Scotty: The Vikings draft history is tough for me because it seems like they really went after what the coaching staff valued so was the RBs being selected early because of their run first offense or something they believe in?
I’m all for a RB being selected early but I don’t know if this is the year we’ll see it. Broncos have too many defensive needs to select one on the first two days.
Joe: Shurmur was a part of the Vikings’ staff when they took Dalvin Cook with their first pick in 2017. I don’t think that would happen this year, but with the way the Broncos prioritized Melvin Gordon last offseason I do believe this coaching staff places quite a bit of emphasis on their running backs.
Are there any backs you like in this class Scotty?
Tim Lynch: I am all for Paton drafting running backs. As a Dalvin Cook fantasy owner this season, I enjoyed the fruits of Paton’s labor there on my way to a Championship finish. Some schmuck even took a trade offer for my other running back, Zeke Elliot, for a 2nd round pick and David Montgomery. You were too kind to me this year, Scotty. I spent my winnings on boneless chicken wings.
Scotty: I do like Najee Harris! He was a touchdown machine in college and has SOME Derrick Henry to his game. North Carolina’s Javonte Williams is another. Go watch his tape, he rarely goes down on first contact and routinely breaks tackles.
As for Tim, you motherf****r. That was unexpected and good.
What I would do
As much as I like Phillip Lindsay, I think John Elway made the right decision to not give him an extension. The running back position is just too easy to fill. They should give him a low round tender like they did with C.J. Anderson and either match or pass on the contract offer that Lindsay chooses.
Gordon’s suspension will hurt the Broncos early in the season, but he played well enough late last year to have earned my respect and confidence that Denver is a better team with Gordon on the field in 2021. I just hope he protects the football better next season.
The last thing I would do if I were George Paton is draft a running back on Day 2. Dalvin Cook was a Day 2 pick and while I don’t expect that kind of home run, it would be good to get a young guy in there since they will likely let Royce Freeman walk after this season.
What would you do with the Broncos running back situation in 2021? Let us know in the comments section below.