Seeking Javonte Williams insurance, the Broncos are looking to another team’s backup. Former Bengals running back Samaje Perine is signing a two-year Denver deal, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
The Broncos are giving the former Joe Mixon backup a two-year, $7.5MM deal that includes an additional $1MM in incentives. Perine will join his fourth NFL team and an offense in transition. With Williams recovering from ACL surgery, an opportunity at a bigger role may exist in Denver.
Backing up Mixon both in Cincinnati and at Oklahoma, Perine effectively filled in for the starter last season. The 240-pound back scored four touchdowns in a two-game starter span last year, helping the Bengals to wins over the Steelers and Chiefs. He totaled 21 carries for 106 yards and a score over the eventual Super Bowl champions.
This pickup is also interesting due to the number of young starters available for the Broncos. While the Dolphins brought back both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson and the Eagles inked Rashaad Penny, the rest of the starters who were not franchise-tagged remain on the market. Kareem Hunt, Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary, Jamaal Williams, D’Onta Foreman, Damien Harris and David Montgomery are available. It does not appear each will command starter-level money, with a supply-and-demand issue favoring teams, so the Broncos diving in early on Perine either points to some conviction from team brass or an intent not to devote much money to the Williams insurance slot.
That said, Perine only has 401 career carries on his odometer. Although he is headed into an age-28 season, the light workload should benefit him. And the Broncos did operate aggressively on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, giving big deals to Mike McGlinchey, Ben Powers and Zach Allen. Sean Payton favorite Latavius Murray might also be on the docket; 9News’ Mike Klis confirms Murray is still a possibility (Twitter link). The Broncos may still be on the lookout for a back with more pass-catching upside, though Perine did finish with a career-high 38 receptions for 287 yards last season.
Williams suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 of season, and it is not certain he will be back to start next season. Perine, then, moves into position to start in that case. Barring an agreement with one of the other UFA backs, the Broncos should be considered likely to add to their running back room during the middle rounds of the draft.