Denver Broncos: Giving grades for 2020 free agent pickups

Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos running back. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos running back. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 5
Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
Melvin Gordon, RB #25 of the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos are not typically strangers to exciting offseason activity.

Just when it seemed like continuity might be the play for the 2021 offseason, the Broncos re-shuffled their front office. John Elway stepped down (up?) from his position as GM and will be the President of Football Operations for a year while George Paton has his rookie season as an NFL general manager.

Elway’s top assistant — Matt Russell — is also retiring from his role and the Broncos will have a brand-new structure in the front office.

This means that, while Elway will not likely have nothing to do with moves made in 2021, the 2020 free agent class was his last with the Denver Broncos.

For the last time, let’s grade a free agent class of Elway’s.

Denver Broncos 2020 FA Grades: Melvin Gordon, RB

Contract: Two years, $16 million ($13.5 million guaranteed)

The signing of Melvin Gordon was heavily debated among Denver Broncos fans at the time it happened.

On principle, many fans are against the idea of paying any large amount of cash to a running back at all, much less a back from a rival club who has only arguably lived up to his billing as a first-round running back.

If a free agent pickup could be the very definition of a double-edged sword, Gordon is it.

The bad? Gordon had four fumbles including a bizarre pitch back to the quarterback on a flea flicker play. His fumbles contributed significantly to the season-opening loss against Tennessee and the team’s blowout loss at home to the Chiefs.

In addition to struggling with fumbles (four in all), Gordon was cited for a DUI and speeding in year one with Denver. How the legal situation with the DUI plays out will determine whether Gordon serves a three-game suspension in 2020. He also missed a game due to sickness in 2020, though thankfully it was non-COVID related.

The good? Gordon was legitimately the Broncos’ best running back in 2020 and was almost as-advertised across the board. He finished with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, 10 total touchdowns, and was essential for the passing game with his pass protection abilities.

He had a ridiculous touchdown catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers and a phenomenal touchdown run against the New York Jets, arguably two of the Broncos’ best offensive plays the entire season.

Gordon averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2020, slightly above his career average but the second-best number of his career fairly easily.

Overall, Gordon was not exactly a game-changer at the position but a very solid acquisition whose value to the team became apparent as the season progressed.

Grade: B+