With today’s deadline looming, the Broncos have decided to match the Dolphins’ offer sheet for running back C.J. Anderson, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). By matching the offer, Denver will bring Anderson back on the terms of that deal, rather than letting him leave for Miami.
Anderson confirmed the decision himself, announcing in a tweet: “I will be apart of the Broncos for 4 more years blessed to be apart of this wonderful Organization and super blessed for this opp.”
[RELATED: Details on C.J. Anderson’s offer sheet]
An undrafted free agent out of California in 2013, Anderson burst onto the scene during his sophomore season. He compiled 849 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns in 2014, and he added another 324 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air. Anderson only started six games in 2015, finishing with 720 yards and five scores on 152 attempts. Despite the up-and-down season, Anderson played a major part in Denver’s Super Bowl win, rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown in the championship game.
Having been assigned a low-end RFA tender worth $1.671MM, Anderson was free to sign an offer sheet with another team, and got one he liked from the Dolphins, worth $18MM over four years. If the Broncos had elected not to match the offer, they wouldn’t have received any compensation for losing their running back.
It’s fair to criticize the Broncos for not using a second-round tender (worth $2.553MM) on Anderson, which likely would have discouraged rival offers. However, when Denver placed an RFA tender on Anderson, the team had not yet lost free agents like Brock Osweiler, Malik Jackson, and Danny Trevathan. Had GM John Elway known that all of those players would depart, he likely would’ve used a little extra cap room on Anderson by giving him a higher tender.
Additionally, if Anderson had received the second-round tender, he likely would have played out the season on that salary, becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2016. A big year would have put him in a good position to land an even larger deal, and the Broncos wouldn’t have had the right of first refusal at that point.
With Anderson headed back to Denver, he looks like the favorite to be the No. 1 back for the Broncos in 2016 — not only does he have a big new contract, but fellow running back Ronnie Hillman is currently a free agent. As for the Dolphins, they still have 2015 draftee Jay Ajayi, but will likely continue to monitor the market for a veteran to complement him.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.