The Denver Broncos have a growing list of questions during this offseason, but one that is flying under the radar is what the team should do with running back Phillip Lindsay.
The Broncos have needs at several positions and new talk every day from Broncos Country about which quarterback the team should attempt to trade for. Lindsay is a restricted free agent and the team has until March 17 to decide whether or not to place a tender on him or not.
Lindsay is coming off a season dominated by injuries, rushing for just over 500 yards after cracking 1,000 in each of his first two seasons.
The 2020 season was a difficult one for the hometown favorite. He had to deal with the team signing Melvin Gordon in free agency and then was frustrated with how he was used in Pat Shurmur’s offense. An example of that would be the fact that he worked all offseason on becoming a better receiver out of the backfield, but he was never given a chance to showcase that.
During an appearance on Cecil and Nick on 104.3 The Fan, with Cecil Lammey and former Broncos safety Nick Ferguson, Lindsay had this to say:
"“How can you say someone can’t catch a ball when you don’t give them enough balls to be thrown to? It doesn’t matter who it is, you’re going to drop balls, okay? That’s just the nature of the game. But the more you get thrown to the more confidence you get, and the more you think the QB trusts and believes in you.”"
And Lindsay has the right to be frustrated. He has been a fabulous find for the Broncos as an undrafted free agent.
But if the Broncos offer him a first or second-round tender, they are going to have to pay him between $3.3 and $4.7 million this coming season, which are projected numbers according to Over the Cap.
The Broncos could also place an original-round tender on Lindsay and pay him as such, but since he was undrafted, the team would get nothing in the form of compensation if another team were to offer him more money.
That could be quite the conundrum.
But Lindsay is worth keeping around. His 2020 season should not detract from that. He’s still young and has plenty of tread left on the tires. And if Lindsay and Gordon are both at 100 percent, give me Lindsay, no hesitation.
Lindsay may feel some sort of betrayal on the part of his current team, however. If not, he wouldn’t have been so open to being critical on the radio station. That wasn’t your typical diplomatic, “say all the right things” interview.
So Lindsay could be looking for a new opportunity, one where the team sees him for what he is. That might not be in Denver.
The Broncos’ best move would be to see if they can mend the breaking bridge with the young running back and find a way to keep him in the fold for 2020.
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What would you do as the GM?
This will be an interesting decision for George Paton.
If it were me, I would opt for a second-round tender on Lindsay, paying him north of $3 million this season. He did have a rough 2020 season, but you can still reward him for the two seasons prior and hope he can return to that form.
There is no way that I risk him going somewhere else on an original-round tender. But it’s all about what Paton sees in his current running back room, and he could easily feel as though Gordon and Royce Freeman are enough to get by in 2021.
He could then use a pick on the third day of the draft to find depth at the running back position. That would hurt all the local fans of Lindsay’s, but it also might be best for his career at this point.