Options for the Denver Broncos to replace the departed Melvin Gordon
It’s a tough business, the business of football that is. Even though I never wanted the Broncos to sign Melvin Gordon – let alone bring him back this offseason – I’m not giddy the Broncos released him on Monday.
We all knew it was going to happen. Gordon has a fumbling problem, and that problem cost them the game against the Raiders with another fumble (his fifth of the year) in scoring position. Gordon is released, and now the Broncos will likely turn to Latavius Murray as their starter.
We've waived RB Melvin Gordon III. pic.twitter.com/zRCr3aqYup
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 21, 2022
In addition to Gordon’s release, Monday’s news cycle revealed that Chase Edmonds has a high-ankle sprain. That injury could cost him at least a month of action while he properly heals. This means the Broncos are likely to have Marlon Mack as a primary backup to Murray. In addition to that, the Broncos may elevate Devine Ozigbo from the practice squad. That’s a nice trio of backs, but Denver is likely to look elsewhere for help too.
So, what kind of options do the Broncos have now that they’ve moved on from Gordon? Let’s take a look at their options.
Duke Johnson (Bills practice squad)
I’ve suggested it before, but the Broncos should have interest in Duke Johnson. The veteran is mostly thought of as a receiving back, but Johnson could produce as a runner – with a large workload – if called upon. Johnson has flashed during his pro career in several stops along the way. He’s never gotten the opportunity to start for more than a handful of games, but Johnson has looked good when he’s gotten more work. The Bills traded for Nyheim Hines earlier this year, so Johnson seems bound to be locked onto their practice squad so long as everyone in the Bills’ running back room stays healthy.
Jordan Wilkins (Colts practice squad)
The Broncos have Mack on the roster, and he should be in line for his first opportunity with the team beginning in Week 12. Why don’t the Broncos add one of his former teammates in Jordan Wilkins? A fifth-round pick out of Ole Miss in the 2018 NFL draft, Mack and Wilkins provided nice depth and play with the Colts for years. Both have bounced around the league a bit, but Wilkins has found himself back on the practice squad in Indianapolis. Like Mack, Wilkins is a good all-purpose back who can produce as a runner or receiver out of the backfield.
Darwin Thompson (Seahawks practice squad)
I wonder if the Broncos want a large back or a change of pace back if/when they add another player to the running back room. If the latter is what the Broncos want, then Darwin Thompson makes sense. A sixth-round pick for the Chiefs out of Utah State in 2019, Thompson is the type of player that makes scouts drool with anticipation. He led all Mountain West backs in yards after contact during his final season with the Aggies. Thompson knows how to get to and through the hole quickly, and he’s got the ability to be a big-play weapon in space.
Jarett Patterson (Commanders practice squad)
If they want a change-of-pace back, then Jaret Patterson makes sense to me. He’s currently on the Commanders’ practice squad, but Patterson does have experience in the NFL. Patterson landed with Washington as an undrafted free agent out of Buffalo in 2021. He made the roster as a rookie, and Patterson totaled 266 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 68 attempts, adding 10 receptions for 73 yards on 12 targets. He’s a compact runner, but Patterson can change direction quickly and he’s got the ability to create his own space with elusiveness and speed.