After an offseason of speculation, the Denver Broncos finally let C.J. Anderson go Monday morning.
Not much went right for the Denver Broncos offense last season, but C.J. Anderson was a relative bright spot with his first 1,000-yard rushing season while playing all 16 games for the first time in his career. Rumors about his time with the Broncos coming to an end have lingered all offseason, and on the verge of team workouts starting Pro Football Talk reported Monday morning Anderson had been released.
The Broncos were able to clear all of Anderson’s $4.5 million salary 2018 off their books, so it’s a little puzzling they waited as long as they did to cut him. Trade talks don’t seem to have gotten much traction, outside of a reported deal the Miami Dolphins backed out on at the last minute. It’s certainly preferable to get something for a player, but moving on from Anderson was such an obvious move and it would have helped him to be available a month ago.
With Anderson gone, Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson are now Denver’s top two running backs. Booker got a late start last season due to a wrist injury, and only had 79 carries for 299 yards in 13 games. But he has shown pass-catching ability, with 61 receptions on 83 targets over two seasons, and the Broncos’ coaching staff may be “intent” on having him as the team’s No. 1 running back in 2018.
Denver will also theoretically be in the market for a running back in next week’s draft, and there’s a chance Saquon Barkley falls right into their laps at No. 5 overall. But it’s more likely the Broncos will go another direction, then choose from guys like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Ronald Jones and Rashaad Penny when they go on the clock again at No. 40 overall in the second round.
Despite a very good grade from Pro Football Focus last season, the eye test says Anderson is an incredibly ordinary running back. Swapping him out for a cheaper rookie to fill the depth chart, and possibly Booker as the new lead back, was the right move by the Broncos on all fronts.