Although it wasn’t their most pressing need, the Denver Broncos finally added running back depth in the draft, selecting Coastal Carolina running back De’Angelo Henderson* in the sixth round last Thursday, making him the third running back on the depth chart. Upon further review though, apparently having three running backs on the roster wasn’t enough for the Broncos.
Jamaal Charles has a one-year, $900K deal w/ $100,000 workout bonus and chance to earn up to $3.75M with 46-man bonus, incentives. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) May 2, 2017
Broncos fans have every right to be excited about this signing at first glance. At his peak, Charles was arguably the best running back in the NFL. Over the past nine seasons, Denver’s newest addition ran for 7,260 yards and 43 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry, good for the second highest yards per carry average for a running back in NFL history.
There’s no doubt that Charles has a great body of work for his career, but luring him away from a hated division rival would have been a huge coup if it happened five or so years ago. The former Chief isn’t the same player he once was thanks to a rash of knee injuries the past two seasons, and Charles will also be 30 years old at the start of the 2017 season, an age where running backs begin their inevitable decline.
Taking age and injury history into account, Charles won’t be able to the workhorse in the backfield unless he really impresses them during training camp. Instead, it’s more likely that the Broncos will end up utilizing him in obvious passing situations on third down, giving the Broncos passing attack a weapon out of the backfield. The former All-Pro runner has 2,457 yards receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns in his career and hopefully has just enough left in the tank to make defenders miss in the open field.
Although unlikely, Charles could rediscover his All-Pro form and give the Broncos a dominant running game that could carry them back to the postseason. It’s more likely though that Charles will disappoint and get injured for a third consecutive season. Temper your expectations, Broncos fans. It’ll make things a little easier to handle next season.
*De’Angelo Henderson stats from foxsports.com
Mike Esposito is the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos Staff Writer at Endzonescore.com. Follow him on Twitter @espo6891