Yesterday the Denver Broncos released Running Back Willis McGahee from their crowded backfield, making the 32 year old veteran a free agent. McGahee will not be without a team for long, so it is time to examine some potential landing spots following his release from the Broncos.
Willis McGahee became expendable for the Broncos after the emergence of Ronnie Hillman last year, as well as the draft of Montee Ball in the second round of this year’s draft. The veteran back was asked about his feelings towards his former team following the news of his release breaking yesterday and replied that “I don’t have anything against the people behind me. Now they have the opportunity. I wish them nothing but the best of luck. They’re all good kids.”
The team’s leading rusher last season, McGahee was able to compile a total of 1,930 yards and nine touchdowns in two years with the team. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2011 while with the team. McGahee blew out his knee last season, ending his season and making himself expendable through the emergence of Hillman.
With the exception of the injury, McGahee has managed to become one of the few running backs in recent memory to defy the belief that a running back is essentially finished in the NFL after hitting age 30. He has remained an effective rusher, and shown no signs of slowing down other than the knee injury. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bounce back to his prior form at his age, however he has an impressive resume that will garner him some contract offers very soon.
Despite the fact that Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, Cedric Benson and Brandon Jacobs are all currently free agents there are still plenty of teams in need of a quality running back. The age of the feature back is dying out, in favor of a platoon of running backs. With teams constantly throwing different backs into the lineup, McGahee will have no trouble finding a team desiring his services.
Three teams make the most sense to me as potential landing spots for McGahee following his release from the Broncos. The New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders, and the San Diego Chargers would all greatly benefit from acquiring the veteran. The 11 year veteran out of the University of Miami may only have a year or two left in the tank, but that is all these teams would need in order to better themselves greatly.
Rex Ryan and the New York Jets have an unproven backfield heading into training camp. Given the fact that Mark Sanchez has shown himself incapable of leading an offense on his own, and his competition in Geno Smith is a rookie, the team needs an effective running game if it wants any chance at competing this season. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are the top backs on the depth chart, not exactly the most well known names in the league. Neither has been a full time starter thus far in their respective careers.
Should the Jets desire some veteran leadership to help their young backs develop into legitimate starters moving forward, McGahee would be able to shoulder a lot of the responsibility this season in order to ease their transition from role player to feature backs.
The Oakland Raiders have an elite caliber running back in Darren McFadden. They make this list of potential landing spots for McGahee following his release from the rival Broncos despite this fact for one main reason. Darren McFadden is an injury waiting to happen. Every year he tweaks something, be it an ankle or wrist or whatever other part of your body you can imagine. He then misses significant time and the offense suffers greatly as a result. Matt Flynn probably isn’t going to be able to shoulder the entire offensive load this year given his options at receiver. They need an insurance policy they can cash in when ‘Run DMC’ goes down, McGahee is just that.
San Diego finds itself in much the same situation as Oakland. Injuries have effected starter Ryan Matthews in the past, however that is not the main reason they need an insurance policy for their starter. Phillip Rivers had his worst season as a professional last year, and fans and experts began to doubt the abilities of the veteran passer. He should be able to bounce back as long as he has a decent run game to compliment him.
Ryan Matthews has shown the potential to be an elite rusher, however he is yet to put those abilities together into a well rounded, consistent game. He oozes talent, however he is disappointing much the same as Rivers has been. Should he continue to struggle, McGahee could provide competition and push the young back into the stardom that the San Diego coaching staff knows he can reach.
Several potential landing spots exist for McGahee following his release from the Denver Broncos yesterday. He may not have the luxury of playing alongside Peyton Manning anymore, however things could be worse. He won’t be unemployed for long, and will be given a chance by some lucky suitor to showcase his ability to come back from injury despite his age.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express
Like and share with the links below!