The Denver Broncos have some huge free agent decisions looming in 2014, not the least of which is what to do with running back Knowshon Moreno, a player who was one of the team’s most valuable offensive weapons in 2013.
Moreno has been oft-injured and inconsistent since coming into the league in 2009, and there are some major concerns that he stepped up his game when a new contract was on the horizon, but people will think whatever they want to.
The fact is, dating back to the end of the 2012 season before he had gotten hurt, Moreno was the teams’ best tailback, including returning Pro Bowler Willis McGahee. In 2013, Moreno was expected to be scratching and clawing for a roster spot, and he ended up having his first season with over 1,000 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns.
Moreno’s true worth is his ability as a third down back, able to pass protect and catch the ball better than a lot of backs in the league.
Denver is the perfect place for Knowshon to be playing right now. The offense is tailor-made for his skill set, although he doesn’t really add that home run threat you would love to have at the running back position, something like LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson possess with that second and third level speed.
That’s definitely not easy to come by, but running backs aren’t as highly valued now that the NFL is such a pass heavy league, and while Knowshon is probably a top five free agent back this year, it’s hard to see him getting a major deal on the open market.
Last year, we saw Reggie Bush go to the Detroit Lions for four years, $16 million, and that’s kind of the bar that’s been set for running backs.
Bush certainly had his moments in New Orleans and Miami, but he didn’t put it together until his final season with the Dolphins after he was traded from the Saints. His story is not unlike Knowshon Moreno’s, though Bush has that explosive ability and speed that other backs would covet.
The Denver Post speculated Knowshon’s value is going to be set at the same annual amount, around $4 million per season. I don’t see him getting that much money, even with the season he just came off of.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see someone offer him upwards of $3-3.5 million per season, but it’d have to be a maximum of a three year deal.
For a guy who has had so many injuries, you’d have to think that teams would be weary of giving him the same four-year deal that was given Reggie Bush unless the guaranteed money disappeared after year three.
The reason why people don’t think the Broncos will keep Knowshon is because of price tag, but I think that’s a bit of a lame argument since his price tag is going to actually be pretty team-friendly and reasonable.
If I’m the Broncos, I would definitely offer Knowshon a three-year deal worth $9 million, but if he’s insulted by that offer he might not be back. You could offer him more money based off incentives, but you can’t overpay running backs, especially ones that have been banged up.
Plus, the Broncos spent a second round pick on Montee Ball this past year, and a really high third round pick on Ronnie Hillman two years ago.
If Knowshon does bolt in free agency, it would be wise for the Broncos to seek a veteran replacement, possibly a guy who can add a speed element and provide a bit of that third down ability that Knowshon has.
It may be unlikely to think Knowshon will be back in Denver this next year, especially if some team is willing to pay him what Reggie Bush got in 2013.