Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow Fantasy Football Overdose on twitter at @NBAandNFLInfo, and for more information on Denver Broncos stats, news and rumors – please visit Fantasy Football Overdose today.
It’s no secret the Denver Broncos will suffer some turnover in the 2014 offseason. However, if they want to make a repeat trip to the Super Bowl next season, they’ll have to make sure that turnover isn’t too damaging – or just as important – that they bring in the right replacements.
Knowshon Moreno is just one of the big names in Denver that probably won’t be back with the team in 2014. After a productive 1,600+ total yard and 11-touchdown season, that’s a big loss. There’s realistic hope that second-year back Montee Ball can step up and turn his quality secondary role into one of a feature back, but the Broncos still should prepare as if he may not be enough.
Aside from the possibility of Ball not being the guy they need him to be, head coach John Fox is accustomed to deploying a multiple back system on offense. He did so with the Carolina Panthers, using both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart together. There’s little reason to think he won’t want to do it again with Ball and someone else in 2014.
That leaves the other major question: will Ball be paired with one of the two guys currently on the roster – C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman – or will Denver have to look to free agency or the draft?
The draft could easily be the preferred option, as it’d likely be a whole lot cheaper and it would still give Denver’s current crop of backs the right to compete without stepping on anyone’s toes. However, if the Broncos aren’t sure the guys they have can be as reliable or as complete as Moreno was for them in 2013, they may just grab a guy in free agency at the right price.
That’s not the likely route, but if they go that way, here are five guys the Broncos might consider:
Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders)
What better way for Run DMC to turn his career around than to stay inside the AFC West and play for a winner? McFadden has spent his entire career in Oakland up until now, and has been nothing but an injury-prone disappointment. Denver would probably ask him to take a discount to sign with them, but he’d be promised a role and a chance to get a ring. McFadden’s presence would open up Denver’s historic offense even more, giving them the biggest home run threat out of the backfield they’ve had in quite some time. To make the signing pay off for both sides, McFadden would simply have to do something he’s struggled with throughout his career – stay healthy.
Andre Brown (New York Giants)
Brown has nice versatility and is a natural runner, making him a potentially sound addition to Denver’s back-field. Consider him a more experienced and fundamentally stronger Ball. This would give the Broncos two similar, strong running backs who can rotate and not have the offense miss a beat. He has injury issues, but if he can stay healthy he’d be a sound back to bring to the roster and might even come at a decent price.
Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars)
I’m not sold on MJD in Denver being a likely move, but if he really does have anything left in the tank, he might be a good buy for the Broncos. Jones-Drew has played for a loser for most of his career and it’s not crazy to think he’d give Denver a bit of a discount to play for a true Super Bowl contender. Out goes Moreno, and in comes an arguable upgrade who can catch out of the back-field and offer home run potential. MJD isn’t quite what he once was, but in an offense that won’t solely depend on him, honest defenses won’t be able to stack the box against him. It could be a match made in heaven.
LeGarrette Blount (New England Patriots)
Blount doesn’t offer as much versatility as you’d like, but what if Denver rolled with a powerful runner to backup Ball – or even start ahead of him? Blount proved with two mammoth games late in the year that he can carry a full load, and he can do it at a high level. Ball would be Denver’s top change of pace back in this scenario, and Blount would be a more dominating presence in between the tackles and at the goal-line. For now, at least.
Donald Brown (Indianapolis Colts)
Brown isn’t a feature back, but as we witnessed in Indy last year, he most certainly isn’t the scrub many thought he was, either. Thanks to solid speed and reliable hands, he offers the kind of burst and versatility not every backup running back can. With Brown, the Broncos would get a guy who knows his role and that would be a fundamental and experience upgrade over Hillman or Anderson. He wouldn’t be biting off more than he could chew, either, and would simply serve as a change of pace option behind Ball.
These aren’t the only options the Broncos could chase after in free agency, as James Starks would be a cheaper change of pace option, and of course we can’t write off the possibility of Ben Tate completely, either. These are merely the most realistic options, as well as options that could help Denver.
Ultimately, though, it’s unlikely the Broncos look to spend money for running back depth. It’s even less likely they’d choose to spend that cash on the departing Knowshon Moreno. In fact, it’s fairly safe to say wide receiver Eric Decker is on his way out, too. Denver needs to be sure they don’t get stagnant, though, so look for them to add a little more offensive talent via the draft. However, if they added one of the guys above, they’d be playing it a little safer, while at the same time giving their offense a little more upside. And a Broncos offense that just made history for a magical season getting even better is probably the last thing anyone else in the NFL wants to hear.