Phillip Lindsay is in somewhat of a holding pattern as he waits to see whether new Denver Broncos GM George Paton will tender him as a restricted free agent. After joining the Broncos as a college free agent in 2018, Lindsay ripped off two unprecedented 1,000-yard rushing seasons to open his career, only to see the team pay an outside free agent last spring.
In what was the worst timing possible, Lindsay struggled to stay healthy in the wake of the arrival of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and fellow back Melvin Gordon, finishing with a career-low 502 rushing yards and a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. Adding insult to injury, Lindsay was dissatisfied with how Shurmur used him in the 2020 offense when he was healthy, and even implied that his three injuries last season might have had something to do with that.
Now, Lindsay hits a restricted version of free agency where the Broncos can opt to tender him, which would bring him back for 2021 and give him a sizable one-year raise. Lindsay's future isn't the only one that is currently clouded as quarterback Drew Lock awaits to see whether any of the offseason quarterback rumors the Broncos have been tied to comes to fruition.
Paton has been tied to the Matthew Stafford trade in Detroit, and since Deshaun Watson made public his discontent in Houston, the Broncos have been rumored to that quarterback, too. Several current Broncos players have gone on record to either A.) openly advocate for Watson-to-Denver, or B.) actively recruit him to the Mile High City.
Not Lindsay, though. In a recent appearance on 104.3 The FAN's Nick and Cecil show, the fourth-year running back refused to follow teammates like Kareem Jackson, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Simmons in advocating for Watson.
"At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do," Lindsay told hosts Nick Ferguson and Cecil Lammey. "You know, that’s a big hype thing and the fact is it can bring a lot of commotion in the locker room and bring a lot of things to where people conflict sides and make another person feel not welcome."
Even if Lindsay were to be excited about the prospect of Watson landing in Denver, he realizes that there's no guarantee it would happen. Advocating for one of his teammates and friends to be demoted or supplanted is bad business because what if no Watson-to-Denver trade materializes?
Suddenly there'd be an awkward, and likely even resentful, gulf between any player who advocated for Watson and Lock. If Lindsay wants Watson in Denver, he certainly didn't let on and if anything, only seemed to back Lock indirectly by virtue of his reflective but carefully-worded remarks.
"It’s one of those hard subjects where it’s not up to you," Lindsay told The FAN. "So, there’s no reason to even think about it because you’re not the one that has to go in there and make the offers for the man to come here. But you do have to understand the people that are here, you’ve got to have ready and the people that are here, you’ve got to have a great bond with. You don’t want to sit here and step on people's toes because of some rumors.”
Indeed. And all the Watson-to-Denver buzz, at this point, are rumors. The Houston Texans still haven't acquiesced to Watson's trade demands, despite multiple teams (maybe even including the Broncos) calling and leaving voicemails for new GM Nick Caserio. Each message has gone unreturned at this point.
Maybe that'll change and the Texans ultimately deal Watson. But until and unless Watson actually lands in Denver, wise veterans like Lindsay aren't about to compromise the integrity of the Broncos' locker room and or risk destroying his bond with Lock on a whim.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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