Should the Detroit Lions sign running back C.J. Anderson?

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: C.J. Anderson
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: C.J. Anderson /

With the Detroit Lions looking under every rock for an improved running game, is the team going to look for some help from newly available CJ Anderson?

It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions are searching high and low to remedy their running game woes. Then it was announced that the Denver Broncos released Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion C.J. Anderson. So the natural question is, are the Lions going to add the talented rusher?

It makes sense for the team to exercise their due diligence, assess the situation and see how Anderson might fit in. This includes looking at the possible cost of signing him.

The Lions have a good amount of cap space, enough to sign draft picks and leave a good buffer heading into the season. As general manager Bob Quinn has said, that’s a good place to be:

"“You always leave a buffer,” Quinn told recently. “So, there’s a myriad of things that we always keep a buffer for. You’re never going to see us go close to the cap this time of year. That’s just not good business. You always have to keep that for contingency plans and for emergency plans during the year.”"

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Anderson is coming off a four-year, $18 million dollar deal that he signed with the Broncos in 2016. The fact that his former team was trying to trade him and eventually let him go is a strong signal about the depth of the position in the upcoming draft. Especially when seeing Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson are the remaining running backs on their roster after Anderson’s departure.

The Broncos are doing exactly what the Lions should be doing, grabbing their future running back in the talent-rich draft next week. A young running back on a rookie contract for the next few years without any amount of wear and tear from professional football has much more upside potential, especially considering the Lions roster at the moment.

Anderson is 27 years old and has less mileage on him than other rushers with his 796 career touches. He has good experience in the postseason and has rushed for 1,000 yards in a single season. The Lions also already have someone with on the roster with the same experience and single-season rushing yardage – LeGarrette Blount. They also have someone on the roster that is young and has less mileage with 381 career touches – Ameer Abdullah.

The Lions have similar assets in Blount and Abdullah on the roster already. They also have running backs Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and Tion Green under contract. They can sign Anderson and eat up their remaining cap space, or they can draft fresh legs and keep their cap buffer.

We don’t know how any of the current running backs will perform in head coach Matt Patricia’s new offense. Abdullah could flourish as the lightning to Blount’s thunder. Of the Lions could sign Anderson for more money and we’ll never find out. For now, it appears the team has made all the moves they intend to at the running back position before the draft.

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If the Detroit Lions miss on the running backs they covet in the draft next week and Anderson is still available, then the team might need to take the chance. Before the draft and before knowing what value they can snag at running back, they should hold off on making any further additions to the position.