C.J. Anderson Poised to be the Man in 2016
C.J. Anderson has had an interesting offseason, and is ready to take on a much larger role for the Broncos on their quest to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
In 2014, running back C.J. Anderson broke on to the scene in a big way, barreling through defenses on his way to 849 yards on 179 carries. That was good for 4.7 yards every time he touched the ball, and the majority of these carries came in the final 6 games of the season. Bigger things were expected of the young buck entering the 2015 season with Gary Kubiak and his zone-blocking scheme now leading the team.
Anderson was even quoted as saying it would be ‘disrespectful’ not to run well in this system. However, things didn’t go quite as planned when the season began last year. He had some nagging preseason injuries, and could not get to the open holes (albeit they were small and closed quick) the way he was supposed to, and was quickly demoted to backup in favor of the quicker Ronnie Hillman.
As the season developed, Hillman and Anderson split carries pretty
evenly as 1-A, and 1-B backs, but it was Anderson who seemed to
grow stronger as the games went on, and season went on. Just like in 2014, Anderson closed the regular season out with a bang, rushing for the majority of his 720 yards and 5 TD’s. By the time Super Bowl 50 rolled around, Anderson reclaimed his starting role, and played a huge role in the Super Bowl, rushing for 90 yards and
scoring the lone offensive touchdown for the Broncos on a fantastic second effort lunge into the endzone. C.J. became a Super Bowl Champion that night, and being the featured back on a Super Bowl squad would lead to a nice increase in compensation for C.J.
It was, at the time, one of the more bizarre moves of the offseason when John Elway decided against tendering restricted free agent C.J. Anderson with a second-round tender, and instead decided to stick him with an original round tender. The way restricted free agency works in the NFL, the club can tender these free agents at different levels, and different pay grades. If the Broncos had decided to give C.J. a second-round tender, the way they did for linebacker Brandon Marshall, C.J. would have received a salary for 2016 of roughly $2.5 million, and any team that wanted to offer him a contract would have to surrender a second-round draft pick should the Broncos chose to not match the offer, receiving compensation in return for losing their player.
However, the Broncos didn’t go this route, they chose to offer an original round tender, meaning the compensation in return would be a draft pick equal to the round the player was drafted in. Well, since C.J. Anderson was an undrafted free agent, the compensation to Denver would have been nothing, meaning any team could offer a contract to him, and wouldn’t have to give anything up if Denver declined to match. The tender meant that Anderson’s salary was right around $1.6 million, or roughly $900,000 less than a second round tender. Miami came knocking, and offered C.J. a four-year deal worth roughly $4.5 million per year, and would pay him $6.5 million in the first year of the contract. Many thought Elway would almost certainly decline to match the Dolphins front-loaded offer to C.J. and let him go to Miami.
Many were wrong, as it seems Elway and Coach Kubiak have big plans for C.J. Elway was simply letting the market determine Anderson’s price, and so long as it wasn’t egregious, match the offer and lock C.J. up for multiple years, instead of losing him for more money next offseason. This is exactly what transpired, and Anderson remained with the Broncos for the long haul. This brought a smile to Broncos Country.
Anderson seems very pleased with the way this offseason has played out, although at first, like most, was very confused by the original round tender.
After the plan came to light, and he was retained by the Broncos though it was clear that more was going to be expected of the versatile back, and he seems more than ready to earn the money the Broncos are poised to pay him. This year is going to be a little bit different, he is going to be the unequivocal starter, and he is going to get to make the call of when he is in the game, and when he is not, a freedom he was not allowed last season.
In his OTA press conference Monday, C.J. said “My mindset is a little bit different now, when it comes to you know ‘hey we’re going to let you go, we’re going to let you go until you can’t go,’ and now I get to control when I come on and when I come off compared to the past when I was coming off and coming on [and] off when I was told.”
This is a big change in mindset for a back who seems like he is
poised for a very big year. He also seems very happy to be back as a Denver Bronco, as he said “I’m glad to be in orange and blue, and I started here, I might as well finish.” I know I would love to see C.J. here for a long time, and go down as a Broncos all-time great. I am sure Mr. Elway and the rest of Broncos country would like to see that happen as well. We are all looking forward to seeing C.J. have a truly break-out 2016 season.
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