What C.J. Anderson’s release means for the Denver Broncos

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Running back C.J. Anderson
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Running back C.J. Anderson /

The Denver Broncos released veteran running back C.J. Anderson. What does that mean for the team going forward? We explore the options…

The Denver Broncos have released veteran running back C.J. Anderson, who is coming off of the first 1,000 yard season of his NFL career.

Anderson was a key piece of the Broncos’ 2015 Super Bowl championship team, and was a 2014 Pro Bowl selection after a monster second half of the season.

An undrafted free agent out of Cal, Anderson had become a fan favorite in Denver and will now continue his career elsewhere, and speculation is already out there that he will transition easily to Miami with the Dolphins, who employ Adam Gase and Eric Studesville.

The Broncos attempted to trade Anderson, but after a deal with Miami fell through, they opted to release him now a week-and-a-half prior to the 2018 NFL Draft.

This timing will allow Anderson to find a new team before an NFL club fills the need in the draft.

Why did the Broncos release their leading rusher from last season? Here are a few reasons…

1. They believe in Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson

The Broncos have faith in their young running back duo of Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson. Anderson was healthy for a full season for the first time in 2017, so we didn’t get to see much of Henderson  this past year.

However, the team has loved Booker dating back to his rookie season when he became the team’s leading rusher, and was almost named the starting running back ahead of the 2017 season before Booker suffered a wrist injury.

Booker, Henderson, and a rookie should be the Broncos’ top three backs going into the 2018 season. Right now, however, these two players are the only running backs on Denver’s roster.

2. Cap implications

The release of Anderson has been writing on the wall for quite some time, as either a trade or release would free up $4.5 million in cap space with no dead money for the Broncos.

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The Broncos are obviously sacrificing a veteran who has meant a lot to this organization by releasing Anderson, but they are also freeing up quite a bit of cap here.

3. Saquon on Deck?

Does this move mean the Broncos covet Saquon Barkley in the 2018 NFL Draft?

That would certainly add a little wrinkle in things.

The idea of bringing in a veteran quarterback and drafting Barkley has, on paper, been a very attractive option for quite some time now. The Broncos would be passing on the chance at a top quarterback with the fifth overall pick, but if their top three guys are gone by the time they pick at number five overall, Barkley may be the top alternative.

Adding Barkley to this offense would certainly give the Broncos a new dynamic threat and someone who can do things really no back has been able to do in Denver since they had Clinton Portis back in the early 2000s.