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Broncos 2021 Roster Profile: Royce Freeman | RB

What does the future hold for the Broncos' 2018 third-round pick?

The Denver Broncos have added to their running back room in each of the past two seasons in a big way. In 2020, the Broncos signed Melvin Gordon to a handsome contract, which was followed by the addition of Mike Boone this past spring, and the trade-up for Javonte Williams in the 2021 NFL draft. 

These moves sent a clear message to the team's 2018 third-rounder Royce Freeman, who has not come close to meeting expectations as a pro.

Freeman entered the NFL with a lot of miles on his tires and such running backs with a high number of touches under their collegiate belt rarely work out. Their body just gets so battered carrying the ball that it starts to wear down. 

This was an issue with Montee Ball, Denver's 2013 second-round pick, as well as Freeman. Adding to the problem with Freeman were some college injuries at Oregon which followed him his rookie season with a nagging high-ankle sprain.

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As a ball carrier, Freeman has always been more hype than anything. He's only averaged 4.0 yards per rushing attempt and just under 26 rushing yards per game. 

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However, in 2019, he showed a lot of promise working as a receiver out of the backfield when he picked up 43 catches for 256 yards and even worked out of the slot with efficiency. That wasn't enough to forestall the Broncos from making outside additions, though, as the team went and got Gordon, replacing Freeman's role.

Blocking and special teams are going to be Freeman's way to keeping a spot on the roster. The former Duck doesn't have to match Gordon or Williams in that area but he does have to beat out the other running backs the Broncos have there. 

Clearly, Freeman is on his last legs as a Bronco but the question is, does he make it through the season or will he be a camp casualty? Time will tell. But it wasn't a good harbinger to hear Vic Fangio name every running back except Freeman when asked about the competition there this past week. 

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