Javonte Williams surrounded by a cloud of uncertainty in 2023

Javonte Williams is a fan favorite in the Denver Broncos organization, but with changes at RB across the league and a major knee injury, the future is clouded.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Back in 2020, the Denver Broncos finished the season 5-11, which was last place in the AFC West. That made it the team's fourth consecutive season with a losing record. The bright side was that the Broncos then held the ninth overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. This pick was used on Pat Surtain II, who is now a First-team All-Pro player and one of the best cornerbacks in the league. It’s safe to say the organization hit it out of the park with that selection, but the good picks didn’t end there. The Broncos went on to also draft players who will continue to make an impact today in 2023. These picks include Quinn Meinerz, Baron Browning, Caden Sterns, Jonathon Cooper, and, of course, Javonte Williams

All those players are valuable to the Denver Broncos and could see a future with the team when their rookie contracts come to an end. However, Javonte Williams may meet an unfortunate end to his time in Denver. It’s becoming more and more evident with every passing season that the running back position is disposable. Teams would much rather have a player on a rookie contract take the hits that a running back does instead of using up valuable cap space on that player. It’s believed that the possible drop in production is worth the increase in cap space.

Williams split carries with Melvin Gordon in his rookie year, where they both had exactly 203 attempts. In those 203 carries, Williams had 903 yards and four touchdowns while also catching 43 balls for 316 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Broncos fans wanted him to get the majority of the carries due to his production but also because he was a flat-out joy to watch. Routinely, Williams would run through or drag defenders with him to get every single yard he could, which made him a fan favorite. When the 2022 season rolled around, it seemed that fans were going to have their wish granted, as Williams looked poised to be the primary back. Unfortunately, in only the fourth game of the season, Williams tore his ACL, LCL, and PCL, bringing his season to an abrupt end. 

Whether or not Williams is available come Week One of the regular season doesn't change the fact that his future with the team could be in jeopardy when his contract expires. One of two things needs to be true for a running back to receive a second contract in today's NFL. First, be extraordinary, like Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, or Nick Chubb, so that a team simply can’t replace your production, and they give you a big contract. The second would be if you’re a replacement-level player who returns on a smaller contract.

It’s entirely possible that Williams comes back and is just as good or better than he was prior to the injury. Running backs have returned from serious knee injuries before to be productive, but it’s a hard thing to overcome. No running back has it easy when it comes to taking a hit, but Williams's ability to break tackles and carry defenders makes it that much harder on all parts of his body.

Broncos fans want to see Williams continue his exciting and impactful level of play, but with running backs becoming redundant and a major knee injury in the last year, a somber ending might be a reality. In the meantime, the fanbase will continue to root for and wish the best for one of the team's most captivating players.

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