Skip to main content

Report: Former Broncos' RB Phillip Lindsay Signs with Colts

Phillip Lindsay is headed to another AFC city.

Another former Denver Broncos star has found a new home for the 2022 season. Phillip Lindsay agreed to a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, joining a talented running back room for the coming season. 

First reported by Mike McCartney of Vayner Sports, Lindsay will be a part of a rushing attack featuring arguably the best running backs in the league in the NFL's reigning rushing champion Jonathan Taylor. Lindsay was a bright light in what otherwise was a dark time for Broncos Country over his time in Denver. 

Leading the team in rushing and touchdowns in both 2018 and 2019 with 1,037 and 1,011 yards and nine and seven touchdowns, respectively, he quickly became a fan favorite. An underdog throughout his career, he was an undrafted free agent that outperformed both running backs drafted by Denver in 2018 — Royce Freeman (71 overall) and David Williams (226 overall).

While Lindsay dazzled during his first two years in the league, especially in juxtaposition to the painful offense the Broncos fielded over that span, the team never appeared to be completely satisfied with the hometown kid. In 2020, with Lindsay coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and only one year removed from becoming the first undrafted rookie to earn a Pro Bowl nod, then-GM John Elway opted to sign free-agent Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $16 million dollar contract.

After splitting the workload in 2020 with Gordon, current Broncos GM George Paton placed an original-round restricted free-agent tender on Lindsay. Given the fact that Lindsay was an undrafted free agent, the writing appeared to be on the wall for him in the Mile High City. 

What happens next on the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Please take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Later in the offseason, Denver rescinded the tender upon Linday's request, letting him hit the market where he would go on to sign a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the downtrodden Houston Texans. He wound up being released by Houston midway through the season and found himself being claimed by the Miami Dolphins. 

Coming off of the worst year of his young career, rushing for 249 yards and one touchdown on 88 rushes (2.8 avg.), Lindsay will likely have to compete with a number of backs in Indianapolis to secure a roster spot this season. Given his NFL path to date, battling and being overlooked is nothing new to the former Colorado Buffalo.

After a scorching start to his career in Denver, what caused Lindsay to fall off so quickly? Entering the NFL as a 24-year-old rookie after accumulating 882 touches during his college career, he appears to be somewhat of a classic example of just how short and fleeting the prime careers of running backs can be in the NFL. 

Scroll to Continue

Read More

While Lindsay runs bigger than his listed 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, those carries and touches add up for most running backs. Given current defensive trends in the NFL, playing more two-high defensive shells with lighter boxes, the league seems to be looking for backs that fit a much larger profile. 

Lindsay's home-run style rushing is harder to succeed when teams are playing more defenders deeper down the field. Instead, teams appear to be favoring stronger backs that force opposing defenses to choose between playing umbrella coverage to stymie explosive pass plays or allocating more bodies to the first and second level of the defense to stop the run. Lindsay isn't that type of running back.

Perhaps further detrimental due to his size, Lindsay has never been a very good pass protector during his NFL career. Earning an average pass protection grade of 38.7 from Pro Football Focus, Lindsay taking the field is somewhat of a schematic disadvantage in the passing game because while he sticks his nose in to protect his quarterback, he can be overwhelmed by bigger rushers.

Also, while Lindsay was a big-play threat during his career in Denver, he never developed into a pass-catching threat out of the backfield like many of the smaller backs who have carved out longer careers in the league over the last decade. Given Lindsay’s struggles as a pass protector, he likely needs to bring more receiving ability to the table than what he's shown in his career to date. 

Lindsay was an awesome contributor for the Broncos during some of the darker times the franchise and fanbase witnessed over the last half-decade. He gave Broncos Country a narrative and story to follow, feel good about, and a reason to tune in despite an overall anemic offense. 

However, entering his fifth year in the league and his age-28 season, nothing is guaranteed for Lindsay in Indianapolis or in the years to come. It's an unfortunate and harsh reality in today’s NFL and one that many running backs like Lindsay have faced over their careers.

Even if Lindsay doesn’t make many waves for the Colts in 2022, what he did over his career in Denver, creating highlight runs as an undrafted free agent and the hometown hero, will always be a part of the Broncos' history. His post-Denver career hasn’t gone as anyone has hoped, but he will always be beloved for what he brought to the Broncos in some otherwise forgettable seasons.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickKendellMHH.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!