Has Phillip Lindsay played his last snaps for the Denver Broncos?

Denver Broncos running back #30 Phillip Lindsay. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos running back #30 Phillip Lindsay. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Has Phillip Lindsay played his last snaps for the Denver Broncos?

The Denver Broncos, with just two games left to play in the 2020 season, have placed Phillip Lindsay on injured reserve. Players are required to be on IR for a minimum of three weeks, so Lindsay’s season with the Broncos is over.

Have we seen the last of Phillip Lindsay in orange and blue?

There’s a short answer to that question, but let’s get into the longer answer first. That’s why you’re here, right?

Let’s start by taking a look at what type of free agent Lindsay is in 2021, because that is important. Lindsay is a restricted free agent. If you’re not familiar with what that means, it essentially means the Denver Broncos can pretty easily prevent Lindsay from signing any free agent offer sheets with other teams.


Restricted free agent tenders.

These tenders are pre-determined one-year salaries that have varying levels. The highest tender a player can be offered as a restricted free agent is a first-round tender, which is worth $4.641 million. If the Broncos were to give Lindsay that tender and another team signed him to an offer sheet, the Broncos could choose not to match the offer and would get that team’s first-round pick in return.

The tender level goes down to a second-round tender worth $3.259 million. Again, if a team decided to make a long-term contract offer to a player who had been offered a second-round tender, it means that the Broncos could theoretically decline to match the offer and receive that team’s second-round draft pick in 2021.

Because Lindsay has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons under his belt and has proven to be a tremendous asset to the Broncos as a running back, he would almost certainly receive a second-round tender.

For the price of a long-term contract and a second-round pick, does it seem likely that any of the 31 other NFL teams would poach Lindsay out of Denver?

Although you never say never, there is no chance of that happening. If it were to happen where a team decided they were willing to pay Lindsay a contract he wanted as well as give the Broncos their second-round pick, the Broncos would take the second-round pick in a heartbeat.

Again, this is a scenario that is as close to “not happening whatsoever” as you can get.

The other tenders are original-round tenders and right of first refusal tenders. The original round tender doesn’t matter in Lindsay’s case because he was undrafted. There would be no draft-pick compensation tied to him so he would essentially be an unrestricted free agent at that point and a team would just have to make an offer the Broncos would not match in order to get him for nothing.

The Broncos have to be wise with an asset like Lindsay, who has been not only a fan favorite but one of the only consistent sources of offense over the last three seasons.

Despite his lack of involvement in the passing game (which remains mind-boggling), Lindsay has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in three seasons with the Broncos and has 18 total touchdowns (17 rushing) and zero fumbles.

Every dollar counts when assembling a roster, but consider the fact that the Broncos spent $2.5 million last year on Theo Riddick on the off-chance he could be a contributor for them, or $1.75 million this year for Mark Barron.

The list could go on, but the price tag of just over $3 million for Phillip Lindsay is more than reasonable given that up to this point, he’s made just $1.725 million in total money. That’s less than $100K per touchdown, depending on how you want to look at it.

The Broncos are poised to have over $20 million in cap space in 2021 should the salary cap go down to the rumored $176 million. The closer to $200 million the salary cap is, the less the Broncos have to worry about cap space. There are also a number of players who could be cap casualties, as there are every year.

With Melvin Gordon likely facing a three-game suspension in 2021 because of a DUI case that has been delayed, it would be Royce Freeman as the Broncos’ RB1 heading into the 2021 season if Lindsay were let go and non-tendered.

If Gordon is indeed suspended for three games, the Broncos will not have to pay him for those weeks lost.

Getting Lindsay back for one year and just over $3 million is a bargain for the Broncos and the second-round tender would almost undoubtedly prevent teams from bidding on him as a free agent.

Has Phillip Lindsay played his last snaps in Denver? I just gave you the long answer. The short answer is no.

It’s clear the Broncos made the wise choice waiting to give Lindsay an extension and a bunch of guaranteed cash, but there is no question that he should be back with the Broncos in 2021 on a restricted free agent tender with the low price tag, Gordon’s likely suspension, and the fact that he has been such a consistent producer for the Broncos’ offense when healthy.