Best team fits for Phillip Lindsay in free agency

Phillip Lindsay
Phillip Lindsay becomes a free agent. Photo from The Denver Post.

Phillip Lindsay‘s love affair with the Denver Broncos came to an end on Thursday when his agent confirmed the team will rip up the running back’s tender offer. He immediately hits free agency.

Lindsay was a restricted free agent but by doing away with the tender the Broncos have removed their right to match any offers for the two-time 1,000-yard rusher. He’s now free to negotiate with and sign for any team that strikes the right deal.

Phillip Lindsay free agency destinations

Don’t expect Lindsay to stay on the open market for long. Two AFC East rivals with a ton of cap space should be near the front of the queue for his services. Meanwhile, one NFC team that’s already made a host of smart moves during free agency can return to playoff contention by adding Lindsay to the backfield.

Here are the 26-year-old’s best team fits.

Patriots

It’ll surprise nobody the New England Patriots are on this list. After all, the Pats have been spending wildly and have more cash to burn. Bill Belichick has taken advantage of being cap rich by boosting talent at the skill positions around returning quarterback Cam Newton.

Cam will get to throw passes to tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in 2021. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne are better than the wide receivers Newton aimed for a year ago.

Adding a bell-cow back would give Newton the full contingent he needs to inspire a postseason push in New England. The Pats aren’t bereft of bodies in the backfield, where Damien Harris and Sony Michel can punish defenses between the tackles.

There’s room for another back though since James White is a free agent. White is drawing interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course he is. White’s a terrific receiver out of the backfield who was one of Tom Brady‘s favourite clutch targets.


Belichick knows his team could use another runner and has already been exploring the options.

Lindsay would give the Pats a legitimate lead back with big-play potential defenses should fear. There wasn’t a lot of that last season when no Patriots running back managed 700 yards on the ground.

Jets

The Jets have had their fill of watching the Patriots own the division. Gang Green can start changing the picture by moving fast for Lindsay in free agency. There’s no shortage of cap space even after general manager Joe Douglas shelled out to sign edge-rusher Carl Lawson and wide receiver Corey Davis.

Head coach Robert Saleh still has $50,350,166 worth of cap space to work with. Saleh also knows how valuable a dynamic zone runner can be in the right offense. He saw Kyle Shanahan turn the San Francisco 49ers into one of the best rushing teams in football with zone-stretch schemes executed by tough and versatile backs.

Lindsay fits the bill as a resourceful one-cut-and-go runner with breakaway speed. He’d add the field-stretching dimension the Jets have missed on the ground for too long. Jets’ runners averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season and broke just four runs for 20 yards or more.

If Saleh and Douglas aren’t going to draft a quarterback in the first round next month, they’re obligated to put more playmakers around Sam Darnold.

49ers

The Niners were still above average running the ball in 2020, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use an explosive rusher like Lindsay. His breakaway talents would lead to some monster numbers in the famed Shanahan zone system.

That schematic blueprint helped a hodgepodge of backs rip off eight runs of 20-plus last season. Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert are still in the fold, but Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman are free agents. Shanahan has never minded splitting carries among members of a rushing committee. He also has $13,048,127 in cap room to make a deal for Lindsay happen.

Joining the 49ers would also be perfect for the player, based on the running back-friendly moves the team has made so far. They include retaining brilliant fullback Kyle Juszczyk and dominant left tackle Trent Williams. Shanahan has also reunited with center Alex Mack. This offense is a running back’s paradise.

Lindsay would add another weapon to a team capable of going from worst to first in the NFC West if it gets healthy along the defensive line and at quarterback.

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