Now that the 2016 NFL free agency signing period is finally underway, rumors are heating up regarding the New England Patriots and their potential moves. While the Patriots have been quiet so far, this is generally par for the course for head coach Bill Belichick and the front office. Regardless, the Patriots are now rumored to be interested in Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson.
Since Anderson is a restricted free agent, the Patriots cannot just immediately sign him to a contract. While Anderson somewhat regressed last year, according to many NFL analysts and fans, the 25-year-old running back still has a ton of potential to be an above-average NFL running back. For whatever reason, the Broncos may have lost trust in their young running back as they tendered him at the lowest possible level.
According to ProFootballTalk, a total of four teams are already pursuing Anderson.
“Running back C.J. Anderson is quickly drawing interest on the restricted free agency market. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Patriots, Dolphins, 49ers, and Bears already have expressed interest in man who currently is the best tailback on the Denver roster. The Broncos tendered Anderson at the lowest level, giving them only a right to match any offer Anderson signs elsewhere. If a team signs Anderson to an offer sheet, the Broncos will have five days to match. If they don’t, Anderson will change teams — and the Broncos will get no compensation. The Patriots make sense because quarterback Tom Brady has praised Anderson, who has fought and worked his way to relevance as an undrafted guy — and possibly because Anderson delivered an overtime dagger to the Patriots in the regular season last November.”
While Belichick has not exactly valued the running back position in recent years, it may finally be the time to relieve some of the pressure off of Tom Brady. Still an elite quarterback, Brady is going to be 39-years-old at the beginning of the 2016 season. While Brady takes excellent care of himself, limiting his throws and potential of taking big hits can go a long way in furthering his career.
In 15 games in 2014, Anderson rushed 179 times for 849 yards and eight touchdowns. He also added 34 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. In 15 games in 2015, Anderson rushed 152 times for 720 yards and five touchdowns. In both seasons, his yards per carry was at a respectable 4.7.
While many analysts viewed Anderson’s 2015 season as a failure, he actually was a very similar running back to what he was in 2014. With more carries and a greater commitment to the running game, Anderson could be guaranteed to rush for over 1,000 yards and score 10 or more touchdowns.
NESN notes that even though restricted free agents rarely change teams, the Patriots should still sign Anderson to an offer sheet. With Matt Forte signing with the New York Jets and Lamar Miller signing with the Houston Texans, Anderson is probably the top name on the market. In signing Anderson, the Patriots would also be able to weaken the Denver Broncos—the team that defeated them in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
Patriots, 49ers, Bears, Dolphins show early interest in Broncos RFA RB C.J. Anderson https://t.co/HrkcG3ayZw— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 9, 2016
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Patriots were said to have interest in Matt Forte, so there is a very real chance that they make a run at Anderson. While Belichick practically invented the “running back by committee” approach, it may be in the team’s best interest to finally bring in a lead back to take the bulk of the carries. Additionally, Brady has praised Anderson for his work ethic and calls himself a fan.
With Broncos running back C.J. Anderson a restricted free agent, rumors are going to continue to link the New England Patriots to signing him to an offer sheet. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen, but they should at least do their due diligence on the talented young running back.
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