Denver’s Phillip Lindsay has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons yet probably won’t even be the team’s primary back this season after the free-agent addition of Melvin Gordon. Here are Lindsay’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season.
- Odds to win NFL rushing title: +4000
Lindsay was a very good player at Colorado but surprisingly went undrafted in 2018. The Broncos signed him as a free agent. He started 30-of-51 games Colorado, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (5,926) and yards from scrimmage (4,849). He ended his career as the Buffs’ second all-time leading rusher (3,775 yards) and was the first CU player to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
As a rookie with Denver, Lindsay became the first undrafted player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two NFL games. He saw action in 15 games (8 starts) in 2018, rushing 192 times for 1,037 yards (5.4 avg.) with nine touchdowns in addition to catching 35 passes for 241 yards (6.9 avg.) with one score.
Lindsay was the first undrafted offensive rookie in NFL history and the third Broncos rookie (David Treadwell – 1989; Von Miller – 2011) to be selected to the Pro Bowl. He ranked first in franchise history and second all-time for an undrafted rookie with 1,037 rushing yards in addition to placing sixth among all Broncos rookie rushers.
Last year, Lindsay rushed for 1,011 yards and seven touchdowns on 224 carries, with his yards per carry dropping from a stellar 5.4 as a rookie to 4.5. Lindsay did become the first undrafted player in league history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons.
Lindsay is eligible for free agency after this season. Broncos GM John Elway offered tepid words on a potential Lindsay contract extension.
“I’ve talked to Phillip’s agent and we’ll see what happens and what we can do later on,” Elway said. “That’s not a guarantee either way, but we’ll see what we can do later on.”
The Broncos made their Lindsay feelings loud and clear when they signed Gordon to a two-year, $16 million deal. Both players are capable of contributing on all three downs, with Gordon probably the better pass-catching back, so it is unclear how the Broncos might divvy up touches. The Broncos became just the third team in the NFL with multiple Pro Bowlers at the running back position when they added Gordon.
“Obviously we had two good backs in Royce Freeman and Lindsay,” Elway said after the signing. “We know that [Lindsay] is a guy that’s had a great year for us. I know there’s people going, ‘Why do you need another horse?’ Well, when you have an opportunity for Melvin Gordon to come in here, we felt like it was an addition to the team. He’s a guy that obviously has had a lot of success in this league. He’s scored a lot of touchdowns and has caught the football a ton. So we feel like with him — with Melvin, as well as Phillip — that we’ve got a great one-two punch, and we’ll only get better in the backfield.”
Lindsay welcomes the competition. To end last season as he cleaned out his locker, Lindsay admitted that pass-catching and route-running was an element of his game he planned on focusing on improving this offseason. Lindsay is set to earn $750,000 in the final season of the three-year deal.
“At the end of the day, does it matter? He’s here. I’m here,” Lindsay said. “When I get the opportunity to be in the game, I’m going to make explosive plays. That’s what it’s all about. I’m going to go from there. And that’s what it comes down to. And the fact is, I’m going to do that. So, it doesn’t matter who they pay for or who they brought in, they’ve got to get through me and it’s very hard to do that.”
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur believes there’s enough touches for both backs to get plenty of work in his system. Denver is a 2-point home favorite for Week 1 against the Titans.