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The reigning AFC champion Denver Broncos may lose wide receiver Eric Decker in free agency, and the same could go for leading rusher Knowshon Moreno.
According to NFL.com, the Broncos are not expected to be able to re-sign Moreno, meaning the former first-round pick who enjoyed a career year will be the among the top running backs available on the free-agent market.
Just said on @nflnetwork: #Broncos don’t expect to be able to sign RB Knowshon Moreno back for 14. He’s a free agent. Should hit the market
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 29, 2014
Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and had 548 yards through the air, finding the end zone 13 times, all career-best marks. However, the last time we saw of Moreno he was limited to 37 yards in the Super Bowl by the stout Seattle Seahawks defense.
Moreno, 26, has stated he would like to remain with the Broncos, though all signs point toward a divorce with the team. The Denver Post expects Moreno to command a deal worth around $4 million per season, and team vice president John Elway has already stated he’ll allow the running back to test the free-agent waters.
Meanwhile, Denver drafted Montee Ball out of Wisconsin in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and the rookie became more involved toward the stretch run of the season. Ball received double-digit touches in five of the final eight games, including two in the postseason, after getting that number of carries three times through the first two months of the season.
Team interested in inking Moreno to a deal may be a bit skeptical. This was Moreno’s best year, but the former first-rounder was not much of a factor through his first four seasons in the league. In addition, this past year was the only one in which he was healthy for a full 16-game season since his rookie year.
There’s not a lot of depth at the running back position in this year’s draft class, giving Moreno and other free-agent backs a little more value. The Miami Dolphins could take a chance on Moreno if the team isn’t convinced Lamar Miller is capable of being a feature back. Giving Ryan Tannehill a steady running game could help the quarterback as he prepares for his third year.
The New York Giants’ running game was almost non-existent in 2013, as former first-round selection David Wilson was unproductive before getting injured, and their best back, Andre Brown, is set to be a free agent. The Giants could elect to bring back Brown or go after Moreno in hopes of signing him at an affordable rate.
Then there’s the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders, all teams that’ll need to address running back first and foremost whether it’s via free agency or the draft. There’s a chance the Browns cut ties with all four of their backs from a season ago, while the Jags may lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency. The Raiders are not expected to retain Darren McFadden and could use a running back to build an offense around.
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