One month, 19 roster transactions and several rumors later, C.J. Anderson is still employed with the Denver Broncos.
Considered a surefire candidate to meet The Turk, the veteran running back will join his teammates for the start of the offseason program Monday morning, when the Broncos hold a meeting and issue physical examinations at their Dove Valley headquarters.
Participation is voluntary in Phase One of the program, but Anderson has something to prove in spite of swirling speculation.
“Use it as motivation,” he said in an interview with Mike Klis of 9News. “But I’m going to focus on myself. I still have a job. Try to help my team win games. But at the end of the day, getting shopped around or rumors I was getting traded, I’m going to use it as motivation to show the organization I can still play at a high level.’’
Anderson almost didn’t have a job, at least in Denver. The Miami Dolphins reportedly agreed to trade for him last month, a would-be swap that included offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, before backing out at the last minute and picking up James’ fifth-year option. Klis reports the San Francisco 49ers showed interest, as well.
“He may or may not. Who knows?” Elway said at the annual league meetings. “We’re going to continue to massage this thing, figure out what’s best. CJ obviously had a great year for us. We’ll see where it takes us. There’s a lot of moving parts when you talk about cap and type things.”
Anderson has several factors working against him. Chief among them, his $4.5 million salary cap hit, which the Broncos would recoup in full with no dead money hit. The team also wants to give Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson more carries, and intends on selecting a runner in a historically deep draft class — perhaps as high as No. 5 overall (Saquon Barkley).
To the latter point, Anderson carries no ill will.
“If they draft somebody who they feel can help their team win, they have every right,’’ he told Klis. “I understand. I’m going into tomorrow, and the whole season thinking I can be traded at any time, at any moment. I’m going into this season thinking I can be cut at any moment. I’m going to use it as a motivation.’’
Anderson, 27, has been a workhorse over his five seasons in Denver, rushing 693 times for 3,051 yards (4.4 yards-per-carry) and 20 touchdowns. He’s also chipped in 103 receptions for 859 yards and four TDs. Now is the time to flip him, however, as he’s coming off his first-career 1,000-yard campaign. His value peaked, the Broncos may get a mid-round pick in return if another club seeks a starter at a relatively inexpensive rate.
Such a move likely would occur during the upcoming draft, similar to last year’s trade of RB Kapri Bibbs. Klis correctly notes the “longer he’s a Bronco, the more likely he will stay a Bronco,” but Anderson’s place in the backfield should be written in pencil, not pen, until April 28.