DENVER — Melvin Gordon, starting running back for the Denver Broncos.
We’ll see. We’ll see after the NFL draft. We’ll see if John Elway fills egregious holes on the offensive line and at wide receiver. We’ll see if the move motivates Phillip Lindsay, whose reward for back-to-back seasons of 1,000 rushing yards was a demotion.
Because all those touchdowns Gordon scores — nine per season in his time with the Chargers — aren’t so valuable when they’re called back for holding. And aside from Courtland Sutton, who’s the wide receiver assigned to catch Drew Lock’s throws so the quarterback can finish off touchdown drives with a Buzz Lightyear dance?
The Broncos committed to Gordon with their wallet on Friday, and you don't agree to sign a running back for two years, $16 million to come off the bench as the backup. Either way, it's a very un-Broncos move. The franchise that turned no-names Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary into 1,000-yard rushers now has the sixth-highest paid running back in the NFL.
Good move? We'll see.
This Broncos free agency period made all kinds of sense right up until "Flash" Gordon arrived with a boom. They scored a stud defensive lineman with terrific leadership qualities in Jurrell Casey. They protected Lock with a durable, steady offensive lineman in Graham Glasgow. And, to top off the fun, they replaced Chris Harris Jr. with a Pro Bowler who actually wanted to be here in A.J. Bouye.
Shoot, you could make a solid case this was Elway’s best March as GM since the 2014 offseason brought DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib to Colorado.
Still might be, too. There’s still the draft. There's still a golden opportunity, with 10 picks, to shore up their weaknesses. But they need a focused draft to justify the money spent on Gordon, who’s average yards-after-contact (2.46) were actually worse than the man he will likely replace (Royce Freeman, 2.60). Gordon also burned his teammates with a three-game holdout, then returned to find he wasn’t even the go-to running back on his own team. That was Austin Ekeler, the pride of Eaton High.
But this is a positive move, not a negative one, for the Colorado man on Denver’s roster. With a capable running mate in Gordon, Lindsay can reduce the wear and tear on his 190-pound body and extend his professional career.
Hate to say it, but the Broncos aren’t going anywhere with Lindsay as the lead back. Yes, nobody loves the Denver South and CU-Boulder product more than Broncos fans. (OK, maybe his family. Maybe.) But there was a trend developing with Lindsay that’s ignored because he’s a beloved member of the Colorado club.
Almost 40 percent of Lindsay’s carries last season gained 2 yards or less. While it’s easy to adore his underdog story and endearing Mile High salutes, the offense grinds to a halt on wasted snaps. Negative plays are drive-killers.
The 1-2 punch of Gordon-Lindsay has the flash and dash to become one of the fiercest tandems in the NFL — if the Broncos go offensive line and wide receiver in the first and second rounds.
Will that happen?