Denver Broncos Have Options at Running Back


Knowshon Moreno (27) catches a touchdown pass in front of Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (59) in the second quarter of the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Running back isn’t a top priority for the Denver Broncos this off season, but there sure are some pretty names out there (at least at one time or another).

Among them is Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson (if he voids his 2013 option), Felix Jones, Shonn Greene, and Rashard Mendenhall.

The Broncos were 16th in rushing with 114.5 yards per game during the regular season. Before his knee injury, Willis McGahee was putting up 73.1 yards per game, and then Knowshon Moreno followed up with 65.6 yards per game. Rookie Ronnie Hillman had the next most carries and averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

Looking at it on paper alone, the Broncos may appear to be set in the backfield for the 2013 season. However, McGahee will be 32 years old in October and he’s coming off of an MCL injury. Moreno stepped up in McGahee’s absence, but in the playoff game against Baltimore, he injured his knee during the game, which brings up a durability issue. Hillman is speedy, but he’s small and pass protection becomes a concern when he’s in the game. Running back can be a legitimate concern when looking at some of these issues.

Let’s start with Steven Jackson. Even though he’ll be turning 30, he’s still a dynamic back. He has had 1,000 yard seasons for eight straight years and he started all 16 games last season. At 6’2″ and 240 pounds, Jackson brings necessary bulk to the Broncos’ backfield. One of the issues here becomes cap space. If the team can renegotiate some contracts, the Broncos could make a play for Jackson in free agency, that is, if he doesn’t retire.

The start of Reggie Bush’s career looked like a Six Flags roller coaster. However, he’s proven himself over the past two seasons as a Miami Dolphin. Bush has had over 200 carries and over 50 receptions in his last two seasons. He’s averaged 72.4 yards per game and 61.6 yards per game, respectively, to go along with his 12 rushing touchdowns and 3 receiving touchdowns as a Dolphin. Bush doesn’t have Jackson size, but he would provide some depth on the Broncos roster.

Felix Jones has been a solid back for the Dallas Cowboys for the past five years, but he had the worst year of his career last season when he averaged 25.1 yards per game. Still, Jones brings experience and youth which usually translates to good quality miles on the legs.

Shonn Green brings bulk and big yards as well as durability. He’s missed just three games in his four year career and averaged 66.4 yards per game last season. Bringing a guy like Green over would be a big hit to the Broncos’ wallet, but he would be a huge asset for Peyton Manning to have.

Mendenhall’s final season in Pittsburgh was full of drama. He missed the first four weeks of the season due to a torn ACL and then he only had 51 carries for 182 yards before he lost his job to Jonathan Dwyer. Mendenhall was told not to dress in week 14 which led to him skipping the game, and subsequently being suspended. At the height of his career in 2010, he put up 1,273 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. This is a guy that the Broncos could get a discount on.

In your opinion, are any of these guys worth pursuing in the off season, or should the Broncos stick it out with McGahee, Moreno, and Hillman? Sound off, Broncos Country!

Make sure to follow Predominantly Orange on Facebook and on Twitter.