Oct 20, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) eludes the grasp of San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) on his way to a touchdown during the second half at LP Field. The 49ers beat the Titans 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

A Case for the Denver Broncos Adding Chris Johnson


Chris Johnson is one of the top free agents on the market and expected to sign somewhere soon.  Here’s why the Denver Broncos should have interest.

Johnson has never played for a quarterback like Peyton Manning

It’s true that Johnson isn’t the player he was back in 2009 when he dissected defenses for over 2,000 yards rushing.  Injuries and rumors that he’s lackadaisical with his conditioning are possibly what led to his release from the Tennessee Titans.  That and finishing 2013 under 4.0 yards per carry for the first time in his career.  CJ2K is really an enigma.  He often looks so bad during games but then manages to pop a big play or series of plays to impact the scoreboard.  It really does seem like what he lacks is motivation.  Playing year after year for a mediocre team can have that effect.  This is why the Denver Broncos make so much sense for him.  Aside from the fact that they went to the Super Bowl last season, Chris Johnson has never played with a quarterback of the caliber Peyton Manning is.  Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker, Vince Young and Kerry Collins don’t even come close.  Aside from his obvious talent, Manning has a knack for getting the most out of his teammates as a leader.  That kind of demand may be what Johnson needs to rediscover the spark that made him so dangerous a few years ago.

Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman lack speed element

This move isn’t just about him though.  The Denver Broncos need Johnson almost as much as he needs them.  Granted they have some solid options at running back in Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman but one element is lacking from both of them:  speed.  There is no true breakaway speed in the Broncos backfield.  In fact there wasn’t any last year when they still had Knowshon Moreno on the roster either.  Having a legitimate home run threat for Peyton Manning to use would only make arguably the best offense in NFL history that much more dangerous.  Ball can be the grinder who totes the bulk of the tough carries and then once the defense starts to wear down, Johnson will be free to come in and take advantage.

If 2014 is the all-in year for the Denver Broncos then they need to take every opportunity to add weapons when they can.  Pairing Chris Johnson with Peyton Manning could be one of the more underrated moves that gives them a second chance at the Super Bowl.

Tags: Chris Johnson Denver Broncos Montee Ball Peyton Manning Ronnie Hillman

  • DJP

    Ronnie Hillman can be a grinder? The 5’9, 190 drafted as a scat back Ronnie Hillman? The guy that has tiny hands, and can be relied upon in crucial moments only to fumble? That guy is a grinder?

    • Erik Lambert

      Bitter much, DJP? Don’t twist my words around. I mentioned Ball first in that sentence because obviously he’s the primary person who will tote the tough carries. Hillman was thrown in as a acknowledgement of his presence on the roster.

      • DJP

        “Granted they have some solid options at running back in Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman…”
        “Ball and Hillman can be the grinders who tote the bulk of the tough carries…”

        Those two quotes are JUST an acknowledgement of his presence on the roster?

        I’m not bitter and I didn’t twist your words, those are your quotes. You’re under-informed and wrote a half-assed article. Try owning it?

  • anon76returns

    You may mention Hillman, but you’re not grasping his role. He’s not a grinder, and many broncos fans would say he’s not even “solid option”, but he is most definitely speedy, possibly faster than CKJ after all the grinding the latter has put up with in Tennessee.

    The Broncos have a good #1 RB, a reliable back up in CJ Anderson, and a speedy scat/h-back in Hillman. They don’t need Johnson this year, and they certainly don’t need his contract weighing them down next year.

  • Armando Cuesta

    I wholly agree with the majority of your article. I believe that the Broncos signing CJ would be mutually beneficial to both, adding to the offensive arsenal yet another explosive aspect. I can only imagine what Johnson’s level of productivity would be with a newly defined sense of challenge-to-prove others wrong, as well as regularly running against 5 and 6 man fronts…which he is likely to face as a result of the respect generated by Peyton’s aerial attack. I also agree that Ball is a talented back, and offers great potential in the Gase running scheme.

    I do, however, disagree with your assessment that Hillman is part of “some solid options at running back” for the Broncos. Hillman is a waif of a running back who is perennially in Coach Fox’s dog house as a result of fumbling issues and an inability to pass protect. And he certainly doesn’t fit the ‘bill’ when we face frenetically tough defenses such as those in the NFC West. And CJ Anderson doesn’t offer any better prospect. A back who has a career sum total of 7 carries for 55 yards just doesn’t illicit a whole lot of a-priori confidence. Moreover, the addition of a RB in the draft would certainly help, but would still just be adding more unproven talent to the existing mix.
    Bottom line is we need an experienced RB that is versatile and still productive. And while CJ has, invariably, lost a step, he is still amongst the elite speed backs in the NFL…..and one whose talents we can surely use to make another push at the Super Bowl.

  • Armando Cuesta

    Erik, two questions. 1) Who do you see the Broncos taking in the 1st, and perhaps 2nd round of the draft.
    And 2) In light of the Eagles apparent willingness to trade DE Brandon Graham, how amenable would it be for the Broncos to package something (maybe Hillman and future mid-late round picks) as trade fodder for the talented edge rusher. Seems to me he would make an excellent complimentary piece (both in ability and youth) to Ware and Miller. Your thoughts?

    • Erik Lambert

      I feel Ryan Shazier or Xavier Su’a-Filo would make great first round picks for the Broncos. In the second they’ll have a shot at some cornerbacks like Jaylen Watkins (who might be able to play safety too) or a guard or linebacker they didn’t take in the first like Gabe Jackson or Chris Borland.