A few days ago, the Broncos announced that they have signed veteran running back/special teamer Dwayne Washington. He has played the last five seasons with the New Orleans Saints and spent four of those seasons with Sean Payton. This will be the ninth former Saints player Payton has brought to the Broncos roster this year and it appears that he has a clear vision for the newly signed running back.
#Broncos announce that they have signed RB Dwayne Washington and waived/injured DT Forrest Merrill.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) August 16, 2023
He played four seasons with Sean Payton with the #Saints and was a core special teamer for them. https://t.co/DENjiZgbyl via @MileHighReport
In New Orleans, he did not make a huge contribution as a running back, but he did make a name for himself as a core special teams player, and it appears he may have that same role here in Denver. After the final training camp practice of the year, Sean Payton met with the media and was asked about the Washington signing. He told reporters that Washington was a four-core special teams player in New Orleans and that it will be the same here. He mentioned that Washington will “run until the glass breaks” and that he is someone who can come in and compete at running back and in the kicking game.
“His vision was clean and clear in New Orleans. It’s the same here. He was a four-core special teams player there. He’s in really good shape. He’s played running back. He’s going to run until the glass breaks. That’s his style. He is someone that we think can come in and compete, and then compete for a role in the kicking game. I don’t know that we’ll see him [against San Francisco]. It’s been a minute since he’s played. We’ll probably limit his snaps in this game.”
The Broncos running back room behind starter Javonte Williams and veteran Samaje Perine has appeared to be up in the air. Second-year back Tyler Badie appears to have an edge as the third back on the roster, but undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin continues to shine and is pushing hard for a roster spot. Former Saints running back Tony Jones Jr. is also fighting for a spot but could be in danger now that Washington has signed.
Sean Payton has put an emphasis on improving the special teams unit this offseason. He lured longtime special teams coach ace Mike Westhoff out of retirement to help fix that unit and has made changes to the players at the position as well. So, adding a player he knows and trusts and calls a “four core special teams player” is pretty noteworthy and likely locks him into a roster spot.
The third or fourth back on the roster has to play special teams and McLaughlin and Badie do not have the size to really thrive there. Tony Jones Jr. does, but the addition of Washington seems to point to them not being thrilled with what they have there currently. So, it will be interesting to see how it plays out, but I think we will see Washington on the 53-man roster come week one based on Payton’s comments.