According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos have made a bold move and released running back Willis McGahee. This move comes as a shock to the NFL and Broncos fans, as McGahee was believed to be entrenched as the starting running back for the upcoming 2013 season.
McGahee led the Broncos in rushing with 731 yards in a season that was cut short by injury that only allowed him nine starts. He was replaced in the starting lineup by running back Knowshon Moreno, who ran well and finished the season with 525 yards. This move is not about giving Moreno a chance to step up and be the feature back, though.
This move was all about rookie running back Montee Ball, who the Broncos selected in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL draft.
All reports out of Denver are that Ball is more than advertised, and has found him way into the hearts of the Broncos’ coaching staff in a hurry.
Ball was a tremendously effective and productive back in college and slid in the draft mainly due to running backs being undervalued in general. He is picking up the offense quickly, and for running backs, that’s the key to getting on the field: learning the protections and those other “soft” skills is vital if a running back wants to start.
The Broncos recognized his talent and the value in having a young back like Ball in the mix will help that offense. Mix in McGahee’s salary, which looks to be above $2 million for the 2013 season, and it makes even more sense that the Broncos cut ties with the oft-injured ball carrier.
The Broncos will be just fine at running back. Even if Ball isn’t ready to roll in Week 1, veteran running backs like Lance Ball or Ronnie Hillman will be. This might be the deepest group of ball carriers in the entire league, and should be highly productive this season.
As for McGahee? He’s going to struggle to find work. There are multiple veteran free agent backs on the market right now, and McGahee will join what is a crowded group that does not appear to have much of a market.