Both Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook signed with teams on Monday, and this just further proves that the Denver Broncos are fully comfortable with Javonte Williams and his return from injury. There was definitely an argument for the team to add a free-agent running back. Their top two players at this position, Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, both come with valid concerns.
Williams is returning from a nasty knee injury he suffered less than a year ago, and plays a very physically demanding position. There is valid reason to believe that the former North Carolina Tarheel is indeed 100% but may not return to his old self, breaking tackles left and right. The team also signed Samaje Perine in free agency.
Perine is essentially batting at the Mendoza Line when it comes to being an NFL running back. He's never rushed for more than 603 yards in a season and averages 4.0 yards per carry. He's also topped out at 287 receiving yards and has 2,328 scrimmage yards in his seven-year career. He's truly nothing special, but his competent pass-catching ability and blocking talents is likely what brought him to Denver.
Overall, especially if Javonte Williams takes a bit to return to his old self, the Broncos' RB room is below average, so adding someone like Ezekiel Elliott or Dalvin Cook made a ton of sense. Well, the Broncos won't be able to sign either now. Elliott signed with the New England Patriots and Cook signed with the New York Jets on Monday.
The contracts about what we'd think they'd be. Elliott's deal can be worth as much as $6 million, and Cook's deal can be worth as much as $8.6 million. Cook is obviously the better player who is coming off of four-straight Pro Bowls, four straight seasons of at least 1,100 yards rushing, and was drafted by the George Paton/Rick Spielman coalition in 2017.
With Sean Payton and George Paton both showing obvious votes of confidence toward Javonte Williams, the organization clearly has a ton of faith in the player, perhaps too much. If they are correct, Denver's running game should be among the best in the NFL. However, I do think if you are a bit worried about his return from his knee injury, you are not alone.
I also don't think Samaje Perine is someone who can take the bulk of the carries if Williams needs some time off for whatever reason. I guess only time will tell.