Broncos Urged to ‘Walk Away’ From 2-Time Pro Bowler

Melvin Gordon

Getty Melvin Gordon, who is expected to become a free agent, has a projected market value of $5.2 million

The Denver Broncos might have to allow one of their established veterans to walk in free agency if they want to find the cap space it would take to acquire Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Running back Melvin Gordon would be expendable, according to a column by Bleacher Report’s Michelle Bruton on free agents teams can do without.

“The Broncos are projected to have $40.4 million in cap space, so they could re-sign Gordon if so desired,” Bruton wrote in the February 9 column. “But with 17 players set to become unrestricted free agents and a quarterback spot in desperate need of an upgrade, they aren’t likely to prioritize re-signing Gordon.”

It’s believed that the Broncos would like to pursue a trade for Rodgers. On February 14, Brendan Sugrue of Bears Wire tweeted that a trusted source said new head coach Nathaniel Hackett “told members of the team that he is pushing hard to trade for” Rodgers, 38.

According to Spotrac, the Broncos will have the fifth best cap situation in the NFL with $39.2 million in cap space. They probably would need every bit of that money to acquire Rodgers or a potential weapon of choice, such as his favorite target Davante Adams, who is expected to become a free agent this offseason. Rodgers’ salary (with bonuses) for the 2022 season is nearly $27 million. Meanwhile, Adams’ market value is $25.8 million, which would rank second among all wide receivers in the NFL.

Why Gordon Is Expendable

Gordon, who will be 29 when the 2022 season begins, is expected to become a free agent this offseason after fulfilling a two-year contract with the Broncos that paid him $16 million.

Gordon is coming off of a productive 918-yard campaign while starting all 16 games he appeared in. He gained 4.5 yards per carry and rushed for eight touchdowns.

But, as Bruton wrote in the February 9 column, the Broncos “might have gotten a glimpse of future” in rookie running back Javonte Williams. He turned heads with his bruising running style, rushing for 903 yards on 4.4 yards per carry as a complementary back to Gordon.

Bruton wrote that Williams’ performance in 2020 could make it easier for the Broncos to move on from Gordon as they pursue a franchise quarterback such as Rodgers.

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Gordon Still an Asset

According to Pro Football Focus, Gordon’s 77.8 offensive grade ranked 16th among all running backs in the league, while his 83.4 rushing grade ranked eighth. The grades leave little doubt that Gordon remains a productive back seven years into his career.

One of the best assets the Broncos had going for them in 2021 was their dynamic running back committee. Gordon ranked 11th in the league in rushing, while Williams ranked 13th. The Broncos were the only team in the NFL to have two backs finish in the top 13 in rushing.

According to Spotrac, Gordon’s market value is $5.2 million per season, which represents a substantial decline from the $8 million per year he earned as a Bronco. It would also rank just 16th among running backs.

Gordon has noted his desire to return to Denver in 2022. On December 9, he told reporters: “I’d love to be here,” according to a tweet from Denver radio personality Andrew Mason. But if he signs with another team, it could be with the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers or New Orleans Saints, according to a January 8 story by Pro Football Network.

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