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Broncos waive Melvin Gordon after fumble issues continued to plague veteran running back

Melvin Gordon has officially fumbled his way out of Denver.

The Broncos announced on Monday that they have waived the veteran running back after Gordon struggled to protect the football throughout the season. The straw that seemingly broke the club’s back came in their overtime loss to the Raiders on Sunday.

In the closing seconds of the first half, Gordon took a third-and-1 carry from the Las Vegas 5-yard line up the right side and coughed up the ball. Gordon did seem to have enough to pick up the first down, but the fumble was recovered by Denver behind the line of scrimmage, making it fourth down. Then, the ensuing field goal attempt was blocked.

So, a drive that was knocking on the door of the end zone resulted in zero points. In a game that required overtime, that exceeded Denver’s margin for error and contributed to their seventh loss of the season.

“In that situation, he’s got to be smart with it and he can’t fumble,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said after the game, via The Denver Post. “He knows that. You just can’t do that. It’s unacceptable. We’ve got to find a way to get the ball in the end zone.”

Denver started the 2022 campaign with Gordon as their backup running back to Javonte Williams. Once Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury, Gordon was thrust into a bigger role in the backfield and had been largely underwhelming. Since ascending to the starting role in Week 5, Gordon has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and totaled 179 yards total on the ground. He’s also caught 17 passes for 174 yards. Through 10 games played, Gordon has fumbled five times (two lost).

Gordon has been with the Broncos dating back to 2020 when he signed a two-year deal with that club that spring. Before this season, he has rushed for at least 900 yards and eight touchdowns in his first two campaigns but has fallen off in 2022 and those fumbles ultimately led to his demise in Denver. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, he’ll then become a free agent.

As for the Broncos, Latavius Murray is the leading candidate to start as Chase Edmonds reportedly suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday and is expected to miss a few weeks. Veteran back Marlon Mack is also on the Broncos 53-man roster.

Denver Broncos release running back Melvin Gordon: 3 ideal landing spots

The Denver Broncos have essentially failed this season. There have been a lot of scapegoats, from Russell Wilson to coach Nathaniel Hackett’s gameday decision-making plus his playcalling. Now, we can add running back Melvin Gordon to the list (as if he already didn’t face great scrutiny this season).

On Sunday, Gordon received just eight carries and also caught five passes. Unfortunately, it was the fumble that did him in during Denver’s seventh loss of the season. It was Gordon’s fifth fumble of the year. His goal-line fumble in the Broncos’ season opener was only the start of an otherwise ugly season in Denver in the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense.

Then, on Monday, the Broncos announced they have released Gordon after two and a half seasons with the team. Making matters even more awkward is the fact that Gordon and Wilson played one college season together for the Wisconsin Badgers, but clearly, this duo was not working out.

Now 29 years old, the two-time Pro Bowl running back has hit the waiver wire, giving all other 31 NFL teams a chance to claim Gordon’s contract.

In this case, Denver’s loss could be another team’s gain. While the arrangement was not working out with the Broncos, several teams are expected to have interest in the eight-year pro. Here are three potential landing spots for the veteran tailback.

Melvin Gordon lands with Washington Commanders

NFL: Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Having won five-of-their-past six matchups, suddenly the Washington Commanders are in the postseason picture. Yet, they also lost backup J.D. McKissic for the season, who was a versatile back that had a decent-sized role catching passes out of the backfield.

Now with the Commanders down to Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson, they don’t necessarily need to add a starting option, but replacing their depth would be ideal. Gordon could step right into where McKissic left off, filling in on third downs when needed. If the Commanders plan to continue their pace of having the eighth-most rushing attempts in football, they’ll need another capable back on hand down the stretch.

Gordon makes it to Kansas City

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Gordon may be past his prime, but he’s also quite experienced. Kansas City has used a rotation of backs this season, but they don’t appear pleased with any of them. Recently, it’s been rookie seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco who’s got the hot hand, but that may not be everlasting.

Meanwhile, Gordon has played for the Chargers and the Broncos, why not go for the trifecta and join the Chiefs? The biggest hurdle preventing such a move is the fact that there are 30 other teams who hold waiver priority over the Chiefs thanks to their 8-2 record. Basically, for Gordon to land in KC, it will take 30 NFL teams turning him down.

It’s a longshot, but Gordon’s veteran presence could not only help the other young tailbacks in the room, such as Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but he may also find himself as the hot hand who gets relied on during the postseason. While he has struggled to hold onto the ball as of late, it’s possible coach Eric Bieniemy could help him get back on track.

Sources: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

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