ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If a strong running game is a best friend to any quarterback, what does it mean to a young, relatively inexperienced quarterback?
How about, imperative. Absolutely necessary.
The Broncos are going forward with Drew Lock and his five career NFL starts as their quarterback this season and it follows that an upgraded running game would aid his development.
The Broncos are doing their due diligence on the potential free-agent crop of running backs, sources tell 9NEWS.
Adding another running back would not preclude Phillip Lindsay -- the undrafted former Colorado Buffalo star who has back-to-back, 1,000-yard seasons to start his Broncos’ career – from his prominent role.
Rather the Broncos are looking for a back who can complement Lindsay. And that includes looking at the proven starting running backs. The best of the potential free-agent bunch is Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, a franchise ball carrier and the NFL’s defending rushing champion. It would be shocking, though, if the Titans didn’t place the franchise tag on Henry at an estimated salary of $10.4 million to $11 million.
The other top backs eligible for free agency are the Cardinals’ Kenyan Drake, Eagles’ Jordan Howard, Chargers’ Melvin Gordon and Texans’ Carlos Hyde.
The NFL Draft in late-April – when the Broncos will have three picks in the running back sweet spot of the third round – may be where the team finds Lindsay’s partner. And the Broncos did hold official interviews during the NFL Combine last week with running back rookie prospects J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and A.J. Dillon, according to 9NEWS sources.
The Broncos currently have Royce Freeman as their 1B back to Lindsay, but overall the team ranked 20th in rushing last season with 103.9 yards per game.
Once the paradigm of NFL rushing attacks in the late-1990s to mid-2005s, the Broncos haven’t finished better than 12th in rushing since their Tim Tebow season of 2011, when they led the league.
Broncos general manager John Elway said after the recently completed 2019 season he would look into adjusting Lindsay’s rookie contract. The Broncos have since informed Lindsay they want to address his contract in the summer.
It’s possible the Broncos want to first examine what necessary resources they may need to acquire Lindsay’s partner before securing their popular running back with a new deal.
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