Broncos keep RB C.J. Anderson after matching Dolphins’ offer sheet
John Elway reversed directions just like, well, C.J. Anderson.
The Denver Broncos general manager matched Miami’s four-year, $18 million offer to his lead running back on Tuesday.
The move was a surprise coming as it did just two weeks after Elway placed the lower right-of-first refusal tender on the restricted free agent rather than the more expensive tender that includes a second-round draft pick as compensation.
New Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator in 2013-14, front loaded an offer to Anderson in the hopes that Elway wouldn’t match it.
The Broncos had some financial flexibility, however, after quarterback Brock Osweiler bolted to Houston in free agency and pass rusher DeMarcus Ware took a $3.5 million pay cut over the weekend.
So, Elway matched the offer that will pay Anderson $5.25 million in bonuses by month’s end and a $625,000 base salary in 2016 and includes substantial non-guaranteed dollars on the back end of the deal.
"With Brock going to Houston, it did free up a little bit more cash," Elway said. "That made this decision pretty easy."
Elway said he didn’t regret using the lower, $1.671 million tender on Anderson that invited other teams to set Anderson’s market value rather than the $2.553 million tender as he used on linebacker Brandon Marshall that includes a second-round pick that essentially serves as a deterrent to potential suitors.
"No. We’re glad we got him tied up for four years," Elway said. "We found out what his market value was. Obviously he’d been with Gase here, and so Gase had an interest in him. Miami as well as Chicago showed interest. Overall, when we look at the package, we think it’s a very fair package for what he’s going to do."
At first Anderson wasn’t happy about getting the lower tender, but on Tuesday he shook it off as he does so many would-be tacklers.
"It’s business, it’s all business; I understand," he said. "I understand the running back market and how it works. That’s just having a good team telling me what’s going on. But I’m excited to be here. Four years ago, this organization took a chance on an undrafted kid and I looked them in the eye and told them you’re making a great decision.
"And they’re still making a great decision."
Anderson said he didn’t know what to expect when Elway called him Tuesday.
"He talked to me literally for like four minutes on and on. I’m sitting there going, `All right, man. Are we going to match? Are we not going to match?’" Anderson said with a chuckle.
Finally, Elway told him the Broncos are the ones who will be signing his checks, not the Dolphins.
Anderson has averaged 4.7 yards a carry since going undrafted out of Cal in 2013. He got off to a slow start last season as he dealt with toe and ankle injuries, but he finished strong with 720 yards and five touchdowns. He added 234 yards and two TDs in the playoffs.
I will be apart of the Broncos for 4 more years blessed to be apart of this wonderful Organization and super blessed for this opp 32-254-22
— Cj Anderson (@cjandersonb22) March 15, 2016
Just got off the phone w/CJ & let him know we're excited to match the offer sheet. We have high expectations for CJ and are glad he's back!
— John Elway (@johnelway) March 15, 2016
Although he backed up Ronnie Hillman for most of the season, he started in Super Bowl 50 and ran 23 times for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Afterward, coach Gary Kubiak said, "Late in the fourth quarter, he’s screaming at me, `Give me the ball! Give me the ball!’ And that’s the type of player you want."
Anderson scored the Broncos’ only offensive touchdown in Denver’s 24-10 win over Carolina, a clinching 2-yard dive in the closing minutes after Von Miller’s second sack-strip of Cam Newton.
Anderson said after the Super Bowl all he wanted was the higher tender so he’d earn upward of $2.5 million this season. He’s soon to get a check for more than twice that amount.
"It wasn’t about the money. If it was about the money, I would’ve chosen Chicago because they offered more," Anderson said. "My whole thing was (where) can I be successful? I’ve played in Gase’s system and I know I can be successful and I’ve proven that. And then I’ve also proven I can be successful in this system here. I was more worried about my success and career then I was money-wise."
Elway wants Denver’s rebuilding offense to catch up to its league-leading defense and expects Anderson to play a lead role.
"We have high expectations for him," Elway said. "We think he has the ability to do that, so we’re glad he’s back."
Anderson’s ready to shoulder those added responsibilities.
"My expectations are higher than his, I promise you that," Anderson said.