Javonte Williams Scenario Could Leave Broncos in Limbo: ‘It All Depends’

Getty If Javonte Williams, who tore his ACL, LCL, and PLC, is 100% healthy by Week 1 of the 2023 season, RB won't be a need for the Broncos per DNVR's Zac Stevens

Injured Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams could turn his position group into one that “isn’t a need at all” should he be healthy by Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season according to DNVR’s Zac Stevens.

Stevens’ answer to the question of what Denver’s biggest need was in a DNVR roundtable essentially boiled down to a wait-and-see approach.

“(It) all depends on Javonte Williams’ health,” Stevens prefaced before saying, “If Javonte is 100 percent ready to go Week 1, then running back isn’t a need at all, the Broncos will be set.”

Stevens openly wondered, though, if Williams would be fully healthy at any point during the 2023 season due to the severity of his injuries — and ultimately did deem the running back position a need this summer.

“But with the severity of Williams’ injury—not only did he tear his ACL, but his LCL and PLC as well—I have a hard time believing he’ll be fully ready to go at the start of the season, if at any point during the year,” Stevens wrote. “If this is the case, which the Broncos should be preparing for, then running back is a massive need for Denver.”

Broncos Signing Samaje Perine Can’t ‘Carry Load by Himself’

The Broncos addressed the running back position in free agency by inking former Bengals rusher Samaje Perine to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with $3 million guaranteed, but the signing wasn’t one that was designed to replace Williams’ production by itself according to Stevens.

“Yes, the team signed Samaje Perine to a two-year, $7.5 million deal, which is a significant investment to the veteran back,” Stevens prefaced before saying, “However, while Perine is a quality do-it-all player, he isn’t a workhorse back that can carry the load by himself if Williams isn’t available.”

Stevens deep-dove into the numbers that indicate Perine is merely a platoon back at this point in his career.

“In the past three years, the 240-pound back has played in more than 50 percent of offensive snaps in only four regular season games,” Stevens wrote. “Of the 48 games he’s played in since 2020, he’s played more than half of the snaps in only eight percent of those games. Additionally, in that same span, he only has eight games with double-digit carries and only two games topping 15 carries.”

Broncos to Look to Free Agency or Draft for Another Rusher

Stevens believes the Broncos must look to either the upcoming NFL draft from April 27-29 or the remaining free agents who’ve yet to sign a contract for the 2023 season to complete their running back room.

“The Broncos must add another significant player, whether that be in the draft or free agency, to help carry the offense on the ground,” Stevens wrote.

NFL veteran free agents looking for their next deal include Ezekiel Elliot, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and J.D. McKissic. Denver’s leading rusher from the 2022 season, Latavius Murray, is also available, but the Mile High Huddle’s Chad Jensen believes the 33-year-old is a “last-minute, veteran-minimum type” player. at this point

“Time will tell whether the Broncos ultimately bring Murray back, but at 33 years old, he’s likely moved into the realm of the last-minute, veteran-minimum type backs who populate the NFL fringes,” Jensen wrote.

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