After taking the team’s starting running back job in 2016, Devontae Booker’s roster spot could be in jeopardy with the Denver Broncos in 2019.
Back in 2016, Denver Broncos fans were elated to see Utah’s Devontae Booker still on the board in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, and even more elated when the team drafted him.
After CJ Anderson was injured, Booker became the starting running back for the reigning Super Bowl champions in his rookie season, and had some flashes of brilliance but only averaged 3.5 yards per carry.
The Broncos turned back to Anderson in 2017 and Booker’s usage took a dip in the running game, but he has proven in the past two seasons that he’s a very solid receiver out of the backfield.
As a matter of fact, Booker caught a career-high 38 passes this past season.
Booker’s ability to catch the ball and pass protect has kept him on the roster to this point, but the Broncos have a logjam at the top with Pro Bowl back Phillip Lindsay and last year’s third-round pick Devontae Booker taking the lion’s share of touches.
With Lindsay’s role expected to increase this year as well as Freeman’s, could the Broncos move on from Booker via trade?
This is purely hypothetical on my end, but it’s possible.
The motivations on both sides are clear at this point. Booker wants a bigger role, and there are certainly teams around the league that could give that to him. The Broncos might have some bottom-of-the-roster gems in Khalfani Muhammad and Devontae Jackson.
Both players, especially Muhammad, are having excellent camps.
Muhammad brings an element of speed to the table, something the Broncos don’t currently have in spades on the offensive side of the ball and something they definitely need more of.
While Booker is experienced, the Broncos have their clear 1-2 punch at RB. They don’t need someone coming in to deliberately take carries or touches away from Lindsay and Freeman. They need someone who can bring that element of speed on offense and in the return game.
Booker will be more effective, in my opinion, the more he is on the field. He needs to be a featured back to put his full arsenal of skills to good use.
In my opinion, the Broncos would be better served using two roster spots on Muhammad and Andy Janovich than Booker and Janovich, specifically because Muhammad can contribute in the return game and as a receiver and runner.
The Broncos won’t rush to any judgments here, and they probably aren’t going to be quick to rid of Booker. He is, after all, a skilled player with experience and a guy who can be valuable to the offense in a couple of ways.
But, when you’re projecting forward in the regular season, having Muhammad’s speed — if he can translate it to the field and prove it during preseason action — is a much more valuable asset with Janovich able to take on blocking responsibilities and catch passes on third down in Booker’s role if that’s all they need him for.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a team like the Green Bay Packers come calling for Booker and offer a decent draft pick or maybe a swing offensive lineman to the Broncos in return.
Running backs are not going to fetch a ton in a trade, especially guys on the last year of their deal. Trading Booker would have to be equally about someone like Muhammad winning a job as it would be doing Booker the favor of letting him get to a better situation one year ahead of free agency.
We’ll see how things shake out in preseason action, but keep an eye on this possibility.