Broncos release RB Willis McGahee

Broncos cut ties with veteran RB McGahee; rookie Ball now the lead back

6/13/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Broncos release RB Willis McGaheeWhen a soon-to-be 32-year-old running back coming off a broken leg is owed $2.5 million dollars during the upcoming season, that running back is a pretty strong candidate for release. That is exactly what the Denver Broncos did with Willis McGahee on Thursday, sending him to the streets to join fellow unemployed runners Cedric Benson, Michael Turner, and Brandon Jacobs.

After accepting a reserve role behind Ray Rice in Baltimore during his late 20's, McGahee returned to Pro Bowl form at age 30 with the Broncos in 2011. He spent two seasons in Denver, amassing 1,930 yards on 4.63 per carry with nine total touchdowns in 25 games.

It was obvious that the Broncos were preparing their backfield for change when they drafted former Heisman candidate Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. While it was originally thought that the Broncos would ease in Ball by using him in a tandem with McGahee, the rookie running back will now be the lead man in Denver's backfield. With a truly well-rounded skill set, Ball will be a great fit with quarterback Peyton Manning and is immediately a top-end RB2 option in fantasy leagues.

McGahee now sits atop the remaining free agent running back list as the best available. Despite his age and recent injury, McGahee insists that he wants to keep playing. His most likely future is as a complementary power back behind a younger starter.

McGahee mentioned Miami, Dallas, Green Bay, San Diego, and Oakland as places he "wouldn't mind playing."

Miami is currently rolling with 2012 fourth-round pick Lamar Miller - who has 51 career rushing attempts - as their lead back. They could definitely use a veteran presence in their backfield, and have not been shy to dip into free agency this offseason.

DeMarco Murray is a nice back for Dallas, but has been injury prone throughout his professional and collegiate career (has missed nine games in two NFL seasons, and picked up several nagging injuries in college, despite missing only five games in four seasons). In addition, the Cowboys' backups are 2013 fifth-round pick Joseph Randle and 2012 undrafted free agent Lance Dunbar.

Green Bay has plenty of talent in their backfield, but lacks experience with two rookies - Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin - topping their depth chart.

McGahee's mention of San Diego may have been a subtle, unintentional shot at Ryan Mathews, who - for the most part - has been disappointing since being selected 12th overall in 2010.

Darren McFadden is the unquestioned lead back in Oakland, but is frequently sidelined by injuries (has missed 23 games in five seasons). If backups Rashad Jennings and Latavius Murray don't show enough during camp, the Raiders could look to free agency for a veteran option.
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