The NFL off season is the perfect time for hopes and dreams. Fans hope their team's free agent acquisitions work out according to plan, and dream about the possibility of a huge influx of talent from the draft. Mock drafts are everywhere, all the time, everyday. Most are more fantasy than reality, all are pure conjecture.
This is the time to dream, and dream big, so I have a fantasy of my very own. I believe that Kevin Colbert needs to reach out to Denver Broncos GM John Elway and inquire about the availability of the Broncos impressive stable of running backs, specifically dynamic RB Phillip Lindsay.
The Denver Broncos have a surplus of talented runners presently. Last season they utilized the two headed monster backfield of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, an effective blend of speed and power. The Broncos offense started to improve toward the end of the season when rookie QB Drew Lock was named the starter. The Broncos have a talented young nucleus at the skill positions and are looking to improve their offensive line, behind the tutelage of guru Mike Munchak. If Lock is able to build off last season's success, and the offensive line shows meaningful improvement, the future looks bright for the Broncos.
So who was the biggest free agent acquisition for the Broncos this off season? One of the top offensive line free agents available? Nope! Elway signed former Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon to a two year, 16 million dollar contract.
Elway has made his share of puzzling decisions through the years as a GM, and this one definitely qualifies. Three skilled running backs, one football? I read an article where HC Vic Fangio approved of the signing, confidently implying that Gordon and Lindsay could coexist successfully, and there was plenty of carries to go around.
I am not so sure about that. Maybe there is enough carries for two starting caliber runners, but definitely not three. Where does Royce Freeman fit in this situation? No way Fangio can keep all three runners productive and happy. Lindsay has already voiced his opinion on the subject. He welcomed Gordon to the team, but stressed he had no intention of relinquishing his starting position.
That should have been expected, as Lindsay is nothing if not a competitor. A warrior is probably the more accurate description. He was a UDFA who made the Pro Bowl his rookie year, and the first undrafted RB to have back to back thousand yards seasons to start their career. Lindsay is an undersized overachiever who possesses the heart of a lion. He is a ferocious runner who plays with a chip on his shoulder that may be bigger than he is.
His best NFL comparison isn't even a running back, it's former Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith. That's about as big a compliment that I could give. Actually, Lindsay's nickname from college is the Tasmanian Devil. That says it all.
Lindsay is exactly the type of explosive running back the Steelers desperately need. His 4.4 speed gives him game changing potential everytime he touches the football. His enthusiasm and intensity are contagious, and he would instantly become a fan favorite in the Steel City. I have long been an admirer of his talents and tenacity.
The Broncos find themselves in a envious position. Multiple talented players at the position, but is it too many? Not only is there only one football, but there are the salary cap considerations. Lindsay is entering into the final year on his contract, and he is severely underpaid. That happens when you are a UDFA playing for your hometown team, and you outperform your contract.
At some point, Lindsay's compensation needs to meet his contributions. Maybe the Broncos have been planning on doing just that all along, and Gordon is nothing more than a one year rental, but somehow I doubt that is the plan. More likely, Gordon is leverage for Elway to use when negotiating Lindsay's next contract. But is that the best usage of the Broncos cap space? Would the Broncos be better served to trade Lindsay for a draft pick and utilize the substantial amount of funds it will cost to extend Lindsay to strengthen their biggest offensive weakness, the offensive line?
It may behove Kevin Colbert to reach out to Elway and see if he would be interested in making a deal. The Steelers do have multiple fourth round selections this year, and the third round selection isn't out of the question for a player as talented as Phillip Lindsay.
Any running back coming out of college this year will need time to adjust to the NFL game, and all come with a certain amount of risk. Lindsay is a sure thing, a proven performer. That sounds pretty good for a team in the win now frame of mind.
Who knows, if Lindsay isn't on the table, maybe Royce Freeman is. One things for sure, Phillip Lindsay sure would look great in the Black and Gold.