One of the more surprising moves that took place on Wednesday afternoon occurred when the Denver Broncos released veteran running back Royce Freeman. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had it first.
Denver appears set to implement a two-back system on offense this year that will see proven veteran Melvin Gordon and electric rookie Javonte Williams share carries in the run game. The presence of Gordon and Williams made Freeman expendable, and just like that, the former Oregon standout is on the hunt for a new team.
Freeman should receive interest in free agency. He’s a proven commodity that has totaled more than 1,500 yards in his career while averaging a solid four yards per carry. He’s touched the ball less than 400 times in three years and has plenty of tread left on the tires.
Freeman can both run and catch the ball (he caught a career-high 43 balls in 2019). It’s the type of versatility that NFL teams crave in their backfield in today’s game. Here are a few landing spots that would make sense.
There is plenty of room for Freeman in Baltimore after superstar running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending injury in August. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will now turn to Gus Edwards as his lead back, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman prefers to have two capable ball-carriers in the fold.
The roster currently lacks a proven runner behind Edwards. In fact, the depth is virtually non-existent here. Second-year undrafted free agent Ty’Son Williams and former fourth-round pick Justice Hill currently round out Baltimore’s running back room, and neither player has proven themselves capable of taking up a more prominent role up to this point. Adding Freeman to the mix would immediately upgrade this unit, and he would almost certainly win the ever-important RB2 job.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Like the Ravens, the Rams lost their stud running back to a season-ending injury when Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles during a late-July practice.
The exciting Darrell Henderson, who has yet to touch the ball more than 154 times in a single season, will take on a larger role in Akers’ absence. The 2019 third-round pick out of Memphis has never proven that he deserves to be the bellcow in Los Angeles. Many expected Henderson to play a bigger part in 2020, but the Rams put an end to that belief by drafting Akers in the second round. The selection of Akers said a lot about how the Rams felt about thrusting Henderson into the RB1 role.
The Rams had to add a veteran following Akers’ injury and did so by trading for former Patriots running back Sony Michel. We aren’t convinced that the Rams have solved their running back problem, though. Henderson and Michel haven’t exactly been in perfect health as of late, and Rams head coach Sean McVay rotated through three capable backs at times last year with Akers, Henderson, and Malcolm Brown all logging significant playing time throughout different parts of the year.
The third back on Los Angeles’ roster is currently 2021 seventh-round pick Jake Funk. As you can see, there are a lot of questions still to be answered. Acquiring Michel took things in the right direction, but Freeman would provide some much-needed insurance.
The Falcons are thin at running back. They are prepared to enter the season with Mike Davis as their main ball carrier, but it’s set to mark the first time Davis has starred in a feature role over the course of his six-year career. Davis touched the ball a career-high 165 times in Carolina last season after filling in for the injured Christian McCaffrey. Davis has flashed at times, but his resume doesn’t exactly scream “reliable.
Behind him, the Falcons kept just two running backs—former fifth-round pick Qadree Ollison and veteran gadget player Cordarrelle Patterson. That doesn’t exactly make me feel better about their situation. The Falcons should be on the hunt for some shelter should Davis fail to prove capable of seizing the No. 1 job. Adding Freeman via a one-year contract would make a ton of sense.
- Dec 06, 2022
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