New Broncos running back Theo Riddick held court with reporters Sunday, his first media appearance since departing Detroit for Denver.
It took mere minutes before the seventh-year veteran was probed on being unceremoniously dumped by the Lions, the only team he’d known — the team that drafted him and, briefly, made him the focal point of their offense.
The term “blindsided” was uttered. And he didn’t disagree.
“I was to be honest with you, but it’s the name of the game,” Riddick said. “It was no shock to me, but it just kind of sparked that fire in you and it’s lit.”
A 2013 sixth-round pick, Riddick is a dual-threat back who’s rushed for 1,023 yards and five touchdowns on 288 carries (3.6 yards per attempt) across six professional seasons. A better pass-catcher than runner, he’s added 2,238 yards and 14 TDs on 285 career receptions (7.9 yards per catch).
He entered this offseason buried on the depth chart, stuck behind Kerryon Johnson, former Bronco C.J. Anderson and Zach Zenner. The writing on the wall was underlined in April after Detroit drafted speedster Ty Johnson.
Less than three months later, on July 27, Riddick would find himself unemployed, the corresponding roster move to the Lions signing defensive tackle Mike Daniels.
“I’m not going to really get into the details of (why we released Riddick) more than just for us and the team and where we’re going right now and kind of some of the things we see and the depth that we have at certain position, I would say obviously bringing in Mike we needed to find a spot,” head coach Matt Patricia said, per the Detroit Free Press.
“For us, Theo obviously is a great professional, he’s a great player, he did a lot of great things for us through the course of the years and we have all the respect in the world for everything that he’s done. But in any of those situations, we’re going to try to do what’s best for the team.”
It’s Exhibit No. 1934763095 proving the NFL is a stone-cold, dog-eat-dog business above all else. Although Riddick hadn’t before changed teams, he’s hung around long enough to know — and trust — the process.
“Same process everyone else usually goes through,” he said. “Teams kind of contact you. You try to find the best fit, and Denver is it for me.”
Riddick initially visted Dove Valley last Monday, taking a physical with the Broncos, but left without putting pen to paper. He’d narrowed his decision to them and the New Orleans Saints, where he’d join forces with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback and arguably the NFL’s best running back.
Joe Flacco and Phillip Lindsay beat out Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara.
“Because they are going to utilize my talent and my strengths,” Riddick said. “I have a lot of experience being in the game for six years. We got a young room—very talented, but hopefully I can help them out in terms of things they can see before it happens. You only can get that from experience, so hopefully it comes in handy.”
Breaking Down Riddick’s Contract
In a clear sign the Broncos plan to keep him on the 53-man roster, Riddick received a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, including $1 million guaranteed, per 9News’ Mike Klis. He can unlock another $800,000 with yet-to-be-publicized incentives.
The Broncos have roughly $3.4 million in remaining salary cap space.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter @KelbermanNFL.