Phillip Lindsay

Broncos Notes: Draft, Lindsay, O-Line

At pick No. 83, the Broncos drafted center Lloyd Cushenberry. The starting snapper for national champion LSU is the early favorite to be Denver’s Week 1 center. However, he may well have been the Broncos’ second choice for this role. The Broncos had a deal in place to move up to No. 79, where they would have taken Temple center Matt Hennessy, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. The Jets were set to drop from No. 79 to No. 83 and add a Day 3 pick from the Broncos to do so, Mehta notes. The Falcons, however, scuttled these plans by drafting Hennessy at No. 78. Instead of moving up for Cushenberry, the Broncos stood pat. Interestingly, the Jets’ signing of two-year Broncos starter Connor McGovern created a Denver need at center. With the Falcons interrupting a Jets trade-down maneuver, Gang Green took defensive end Jabari Zuniga at No. 79.

Here is the latest out of Denver:

  • Melvin Gordon‘s two-year, $16MM Denver deal surprised many, with the Broncos already featuring two-time 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay. Count Lindsay as one of those surprised by the move. “It caught me off-guard,” Lindsay said during an interview with NFL.com’s Terrell Davis (video link via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala). “It was like, ‘OK, I’ve put in work.’ It makes it seem like they don’t respect you enough to know the work you’re putting in. I was really upset at the beginning. I’m not gonna lie.” Lindsay said soon after he has since come around to the prospect of splitting time with Gordon, viewing the ex-Charger as another weapon in a retooled offense. As a 2018 UDFA, Lindsay is extension-eligible. He is set to make just $750K but has not indicated plans for a holdout.
  • Although the Broncos passed on Garett Bolles‘ $11MM fifth-year option, they did not draft a tackle. The team passed on both Ezra Cleveland and Josh Jones in Round 2, doing so to take Penn State speedster K.J. Hamler at No. 46. The Broncos passed on the blockers because they did not view either as having the chance to beat out Bolles or Elijah Wilkinson at left tackle, per Troy Renck of Denver7. Wilkinson, who played right tackle most of last season because of Ja’Wuan James‘ injury, is set to compete with Bolles for Denver’s starting left tackle gig.
  • Despite Bolles’ penchant for holding penalties and failure to thus far live up to his first-round billing, the Broncos are not in the market for a free agent tackle, Jhabvala notes (subscription required). Jason Peters, Donald Penn, Kelvin Beachum and Cordy Glenn are the most notable names available.

Latest On Broncos’ RB Plans

Before the Broncos decided on a Melvin GordonPhillip Lindsay backfield, they had another veteran standout on their radar. Denver was interested in trading for David Johnson, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

The Broncos expressed interest in the former Cardinals All-Pro at the Combine but did not wish to meet Arizona’s asking price, Jhabvala adds. Johnson is now a member of the Texans, set to collect his full $10.2MM base salary despite Duke Johnson also on tap to earn $3.6MM in 2020. While the latter’s salary is non-guaranteed, Houston’s backfield has become quite expensive. After two years of using rookie-contract running backs, Denver’s has as well.

John Elway and Vic Fangio came to an agreement on needing a better 1-2 punch in the team’s backfield compared to what it possessed in its Lindsay-Royce Freeman setup of the past two years, Fangio said. New OC hire Pat Shurmur sought a “bellcow” back, per Jhabvala. Given that David Johnson was on the radar, the Broncos were undeterred by a large salary in their backfield.

This has created a situation in which Gordon is on track to displace Lindsay as the Broncos’ top running back. Gordon is also attached to a two-year, $16MM contract. Lindsay will make $750K in 2020. Despite becoming the first UDFA to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Lindsay denied he will seek a trade or prioritize a new deal. Elway confirmed Tuesday a new Lindsay agreement is not out of the question, but the 10th-year GM appeared to be more optimistic on this front at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

I’ve talked to Phillip’s agent and we’ll see what happens and what we can do later on,” Elway said. “That’s not a guarantee either way, but we’ll see what we can do later on.”

Lindsay’s agent, Mike McCartney, said (via Jhabvala) he hopes the Broncos will “do right by” his client after he “exceeded expectations.” No Lindsay extension discussions have occurred, however, Jhabvala adds. Lindsay cannot become an unrestricted free agent until 2022; he will be an RFA next March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos, Phillip Lindsay

With the Broncos having made Melvin Gordon the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid running back, Phillip Lindsay looks set to make the unusual transition from back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher to complementary back.

John Elway discussed the prospect of a Lindsay extension at the end of last season but said before the Gordon signing that such a deal was a back-burner issue. Now that Gordon is making $8MM per year through 2021, Lindsay stands in a strange position. But the Broncos have not ruled out a Lindsay re-up, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes (on Twitter). The Broncos hold more than $29MM in cap space.

Lindsay is set to make just $750K in 2020, the third year of his UDFA contract. He will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2021. With only one team (the Texans) presently paying more than one running back at a rate north of $3.5MM per year, this situation will be one to monitor. While the soon-to-be 27-year-old Gordon has proven to be the superior receiver, the ex-Chargers first-rounder is 1-for-5 in 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

I feel like I’ve outplayed my contract, and I deserve to take care of my family, too,’’ Lindsay told 9News’ Mike Klis. “But I’m under contract still. For me, my mindset is to play out my contract. The fact is, nothing has to be done. You can’t make anybody do something they don’t want to do. And so for me, I put pen to paper; I’ll be here. 

I love the game of football, and I love being out here. I never look at money. Money is going to come when it comes. But I was a top-five running back (in 2018) and top 15 this year so I feel like I am outplaying my contract, but at the end of the day, I’ll continue to play with the contract they gave me.”

Lindsay, 25, is the first UDFA in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Although the 2018 draft class is not yet eligible for extensions, Lindsay is because of his undrafted status. Considering the narrow windows running backs have to cash in, it will be important for the Colorado alum to do so in the near future. He will enter the 2020 season as the Broncos’ third-highest-paid running back — behind Gordon and Royce Freeman.

John Elway spoke to Lindsay’s agent after the Gordon signing, Klis adds, noting the GM indicated his desire for the Broncos to carry two quality running backs. Freeman has underwhelmed since coming to Denver as a third-round pick. Lindsay also confirmed he has no desire to be traded.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos’ Melvin Gordon Signing

Having seen Phillip Lindsay become the first undrafted player in NFL history to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, the Broncos have created interesting optics by signing Melvin Gordon. In an offseason that began with rumors of a possible Lindsay extension, the Broncos gave Gordon an $8MM-per-year deal that ranks sixth among running backs.

I know there’s people going, ‘Why do you need another horse?’ Well, when you have an opportunity for Melvin Gordon to come in here, we felt like it was an addition to the team,” Broncos GM John Elway said. “He’s a guy that obviously has had a lot of success in this league. He’s scored a lot of touchdowns and has caught the football a ton. So we feel like with him — with Melvin, as well as Phillip — that we’ve got a great one-two punch, and we’ll only get better in the backfield.

Ultimately, we have to score more points this year. We’ve struggled on the offensive side the last two, three years, and so we’ve got to get better on that side. I think Melvin will be one of those key pieces to help us get better.”

Lindsay, whose two 1,000-yard seasons are more than Gordon’s one, reached out to his new teammate but may now have an uncertain future in Denver. No team currently has multiple backs earning more than $3.5MM AAV. Lindsay is set to make just $750K in 2020 — less than Royce Freeman, whom Gordon is essentially replacing in Denver.

This arrangement would seemingly be untenable for Lindsay, but the Broncos are not prioritizing a re-up for their hometown success story at this time. Lindsay, 25, is set for restricted free agency in 2021.

Gordon’s abilities as a receiver helped influence the Broncos’ decision, with Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic noting that new OC Pat Shurmur sought a more complete back (subscription required). Lindsay caught 53 passes as a junior at Colorado but has yet to top 35 catches or 250 receiving yards as a pro. Gordon peaked at 19 grabs in a season at run-heavy Wisconsin but has caught more than 40 passes in each of his past four seasons. Gordon surpassed 400 receiving yards each season from 2016-18.

Last year, Gordon turned down a Chargers extension worth around $10MM per year. He held out into late September before reporting, and Austin Ekeler ended up outplaying him and landing a Bolts extension. Gordon said if given the choice again he would not hold out.

I probably would come back just because — more so because of my legacy and what I’m trying to do as a player, my mark that I’m trying to leave,” the former first-round pick said, via Jhabvala. “Obviously, those are games that I can’t get back. Starting out slow and being able to catch stride towards the end of the season, but then it’s too late.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos’ RB Phillip Lindsay

Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay is one of the best stories of the past several seasons. The Colorado native is the first undrafted free agent to begin his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns, and although he is under contract through 2020, his UDFA status makes him eligible for an extension now.

We heard in December that Denver GM John Elway would explore a new contract for Lindsay this offseason, and Lindsay himself — who is due a considerably below-market $660K salary in 2020 — would obviously like that to happen sooner rather than later. However, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post says a new deal for the Broncos’ RB1 is on the back-burner for the time being.

The two sides may enter into negotiations at some point before the start of the regular season, but not until after free agency and the draft. Elway wants to see how much cap space he has after the bulk of his offseason business has been conducted.

“We would like to be able to do something,” Elway said. “Obviously, Phillip’s been great. If we can do something, we’ll try.”

It doesn’t sound like there’s a ton of urgency on Elway’s end, and that makes sense to a degree. Even if a new deal is not struck before the end of the 2020 season, Lindsay would only be eligible for restricted free agency, so he could be retained with a fairly modest RFA tender.

But the diminutive Lindsay has been terrific for Denver, averaging 4.9 yards per carry over his first two seasons in the league and racking up 17 total TDs. He battled a wrist injury throughout the 2019 campaign but underwent surgery on the wrist in January. He is expected to be fully recovered in time for spring workouts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Lindsay, Packers, DeCastro

An illness that has been going through the Green Bay locker room has claimed another victim. The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman tweets that Packers punter JK Scott is now questionable for tomorrow’s NFC Championship Game. Fortunately, the team has an open roster spot, so they won’t have to cut anybody to add some reinforcement.

Scott had a solid season for the Packers, averaging 44 yards on his 77 punts. He landed 29 punts inside the 20 yard line, earning him a spot on Pro Football Reference’s NFL All-Pro Second Team

Wide receiver Geronimo Allison was listed on the injury report with an illness this week, but he was a full participant at Friday’s practice.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the league…

  • Steelers guard David DeCastro underwent an ankle procedure this week, according to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson (via Twitter). The surgery provides an explanation for why the offensive lineman dropped out of the Pro Bowl. Robinson notes that the operation went well, and DeCastro isn’t expected to “miss extended time in the offseason program.”
  • Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay underwent a “simple, clean-up arthroscopic procedure” on his right wrist, according to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver. The team’s top rusher should be recovered by offseason team workouts in April. Lindsay actually suffered the wrist injury during the 2018 season, and he dealt with the ailment throughout the 2019 campaign. Despite the discomfort, the running back still managed to finished with his second-straight 1,000-yard season.
  • Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee, tweets NFL Network’s James Palmer. The rookie second-rounder started all 16 games for Kansas City, compiling 58 tackles, five passes defended, and three interceptions. He suffered the injury during his team’s Week 17 game against the Chargers, sidelining him for the entire postseason.
  • Raiders cornerback Isaiah Johnson had back surgery this week, tweets Vic Tafur of The Athletic. The fourth-round rookie was placed on injured reserve to start the year, and he was ultimately activated in November. Johnson proceeded to appear in five games for Oakland, collecting two tackles and one pass defended.

Broncos Rumors: Lock, Lindsay, Miller

As probably the second-best decade in Broncos history concludes, here is the latest out of Denver going into the 2020s. We’ll begin with the team’s quarterback situation.

  • Drew Lock led the Broncos to four wins in his five-start rookie season, and John Elway confirmed the perpetually quarterback-seeking franchise will not be in the market for another starter. “Obviously he finished, did a heck of a job, won four out of five games and played well, but he still has a long way to go; he’s got a lot of work to do,” Elway said, via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. “We’re excited about where Drew is so, we don’t like to show our hand. But it’s unrealistic to say we’re going a different direction.” Lock’s rookie contract will give the Broncos flexibility they have not had in a few years.
  • However, the Broncos’ September restructure of Joe Flacco‘s contract will mean a $13.6MM dead-money tag if/when he is released. Flacco is not expected to be on next year’s Broncos team but does not want to retire yet. Although, Flacco would be open to a Broncos backup role going forward, video link via Mike Klis of 9News. Should Flacco return to full strength, he could be an attractive backup option somewhere. The 34-year-old quarterback will go through an MRI in the next month to determine if he needs neck surgery, per Legwold.
  • Phillip Lindsay became the first UDFA to start his career 2-for-2 in 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Elway said the Broncos will look into redoing his contract, per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (on Twitter). Lindsay’s rookie deal runs through 2020, but UDFAs can be extended after two years as opposed to the three-year waiting period for draft picks. Lindsay, 25, is set to make just $660K next season, so expect extension discussions to commence. The Denver native would prefer a new contract this offseason, per Jhabvala (on Twitter).
  • Von Miller backtracked on mid-December comments that could have been construed as ominous, clarifying he did not want to leave Denver. And he will be part of the 2020 Broncos. The Broncos will pick up Miller’s option, Elway said (via Klis, on Twitter). The 30-year-old standout’s option — due by March 17 — calls for $6MM of his $18MM 2020 payment to become fully guaranteed, which would essentially ensure he will be part of next year’s Denver edition. Miller’s six-year, $114.5MM deal runs through the 2021 season.

Broncos To Re-Sign RB David Williams

The Broncos are re-signing running back David Williams and waiving offensive lineman Nathan Jacobson, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Denver selected Williams in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. Mike Klis of 9News first reported the Broncos were likely to re-sign Williams (Twitter link).

Williams was waived by the Broncos at last year’s final cutdowns, but subsequently spent time on Denver’s practice squad before joining the Jaguars’ 53-man roster in October. The Arkansas product appeared in six games and played 19 offensive snaps, rushing eight times for 36 yards.

Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay is expected to be ready for training camp while recovering from a wrist injury he suffered near the end of last season. The 2018 undrafted free agent took the first rep at Denver’s camp today, per Klis (Twitter link). The Broncos’ other running backs include 2018 third-rounder Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Khalfani Muhammad, and Devontae Jackson.

West Notes: C. Jones, Gould, Lindsay

The Chiefs and Chris Jones have made no recent progress towards a long-term deal, which means that Kansas City can, if it wants, have Jones play out the 2019 season for a bargain $1.2MM salary (Jones, after all, has to report to the club by August 6 to receive an accrued season toward free agency). However, if the Chiefs want to keep Jones in the fold for the long haul, it will have to pony up some cash soon.

And as Joel Corry of CBS Sports relays in a series of tweets, Jones is not going to come cheap. Corry suggests that Jones is already a $20MM+/year player, and if he performs as well in 2019 as he did in his breakout 2018 campaign, it will be hard to keep him for less than Aaron Donald‘s six-year, $135MM pact with the Rams. And if the Chiefs put the franchise tag on Jones next year and he plays the 2020 season under the tag while still performing at a high level, Khalil Mack money (six years, $141MM) won’t be enough.

The Chiefs learned with Justin Houston that waiting to extend an elite player can become overly costly, and Corry suggests KC should not go that route with Jones.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • The 49ers and K Robbie Gould agreed to a four-year, $19MM pact yesterday, and San Francisco bucked tradition a bit by fully guaranteeing the first two years of the deal (a total of $10.5MM). And, as Gould said (via ESPN.com), that guarantee was a deal-breaker. He had requested a trade in April, and given the Bears’ desperate need for a kicker, a trade to Chicago made sense, especially since Gould — the Bears’ all-time leading scorer — lives in the Windy City and plans to continue living there forever. He told the 49ers that in order for him to return to the team, he would need two fully-guaranteed years, and he got it.
  • Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post says that Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay believes he is ready to fully participate in training camp, which opens next week, after recovering from a wrist injury he suffered late last season. That is in keeping with what we heard in June, but Lindsay concedes that it’s not his decision. It’s still possible that he will remain a limited participant just as he was throughout offseason workouts, at least for awhile. Denver obviously wants to get him on the field as soon as possible, especially since he will be adjusting to a new offense, but the club also does not want to needlessly rush one of its most promising youngsters.
  • The Broncos signed No. 41 overall pick Dalton Risner earlier today, which leaves QB Drew Lock as the club’s only unsigned 2019 draft pick. Lock, the No. 42 overall pick, is looking for an overslot contract, but Denver does not plan to give him one.
  • Yesterday, the Raiders added some guard depth by signing Jonathan Cooper.

Extra Points: Jets, Lindsay, Eagles, Contracts

Carson Wentz‘s contract obviously won the NFL’s Thursday news cycle (and likely this week’s). Here is the latest from the non-Wentz corners of the league:

  • Joe Douglas probably remains the favorite for the Jets‘ GM job, but SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano cautions that a surprise hire is not out of the question. Adding to the Scott Fitterer buzz that formed this week, Vacchiano writes Douglas is not a “slam dunk” to land this job. Additionally, the follow-up phone conversations the Jets had with each of the four candidates centered around salary, staffing and the interviewees’ interest level in the position. A report Wednesday indicated some of the candidates were concerned about the team’s unusual ownership situation.
  • Nearly six months removed from the wrist injury that ended his season in Week 16, Phillip Lindsay remains limited in Broncos workouts. However, the expectation is the Pro Bowl running back will be full-go by training camp, per Vic Fangio (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter). Lindsay, who underwent surgery in December, was supposed to have a three- or four-month recovery timetable. But the second-year back has resumed catching passes — seemingly a sign he will be ready to go when Broncos camp begins July 17.
  • The Raiders’ Dwayne Joseph hire forced the Eagles to reorganize their pro scouting department. Previous Joseph deputy Brandon Brown will replace Joseph as the team’s pro scouting director, Zach Berman of Philly.com tweets. The Eagles hired Max Gruder to fill Brown’s former job, assistant director of pro scouting. Gruder previously served as a Dolphins scout.
  • Throughout this CBA’s now-nine-year duration, third-round picks have been slower to agree to their deals than most of their fellow draftees. Nineteen remain unsigned as of Thursday night. The CBA’s vague language applies to the second, third and fourth years of third-rounders’ contracts, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, adding that the amount teams and agents haggle over is usually between $3-$4K over the deal’s life. That’s quality minutia.