The Denver Broncos found a diamond in the rough when they signed Phillip Lindsay as an undrafted free agent ahead of the 2018 season.
Lindsay, a Colorado native, has been one of the Broncos best players the last two seasons, and one of the better backs around the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.
At 25 years old, Lindsay is entering the prime of his career, and based on his first two seasons in the league, he should be the Broncos’ top ball-carrier in 2020.
Despite Lindsay’s impact, the Broncos opted to sign free agent running back Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $16 million contract.
Gordon and Lindsay make for one of the best 1-2 running back combinations in the league, but that tandem will result in Lindsay splitting carries despite his production.
According to Mike Klis of 9News, Gordon will serve as the Broncos top running back while Lindsay will be on the Bronco’s second team.
Key thing to Melvin Gordon deal is it's 2-YEAR deal. Gurley went with 1-year prove it in ATL. Gordon a better receiver/ less-health-risk runner than Gurley.
Gordon will be Broncos bell cow, I'm told. Lindsay becomes 1,000-yard/Pro Bowl No. 2. Broncos have 2 Pro Bowl RBs. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 20, 2020
Gordon gave his initial thought about how the two backs can co-exist, saying:
“I can’t tell you how he feels right now,” Gordon told 9News. “I was just a 1-2 punch with Austin Ekeler, so it’s a little different for me, I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I’ve got new teammates now. I’m trying to be all good. He’s going to continue to be a phenomenal player. The people in Denver are going to continue to love him. I know for sure he’s going to keep rolling. [We were] at Pro Bowl together. Cool dude. I’m excited to team up w/him and see what we can do.”
Denver’s decision to sign another top back is disheartening, especially with Lindsay entering the final year of his rookie deal. Given his contract structure, Lindsay is due for a payday in the near future. With Denver investing in Gordon, it’s a clear message that the Broncos do not believe Lindsay is their running back of the future.
In the short term, Lindsay and Gordon have two different styles of play that will open up the playbook for the Broncos offense in 2020. Lindsay is more a traditional, ground and pound type back whereas Gordon is better in the passing game.
Gordon’s style better suits the Broncos system, which is why Denver signed him despite already having a Pro Bowl back on their roster. Lindsay’s yards per carry and yards per reception dipped slightly in 2019, although he was still productive in the Broncos’ inept offense.
The former Colorado Buffalos standout is the best undrafted running back in NFL history and has played with a globe-sized chip on his shoulder since he entered the league.
That chip will be even larger when the Broncos hit the gridiron in 2020, as Lindsay will again have to fight for playing time.