On Thursday, the Denver Broncos announced the official release of running back Willis McGahee.
An 11-year NFL veteran, McGahee rushed for 1,930 yards and eight touchdowns in his two seasons in Mile High. However, he was deemed expendable after the franchise selected former Wisconsin superstar Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
“It’s never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community,” Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said. “I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our team’s turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career.”
Buffalo made McGahee a first-round draft pick in 2003 despite sustaining what some had believed to be a career-ending knee injury as an All-American at Miami. He remained with the Bills until 2006, and then spent the 2007-2010 seasons with Baltimore. In 130 career regular-season games, he owns 8,097 rushing yards — fourth-most among active running backs. His 33 career 100-yard rushing games are tied for the second most among active players.
However, he is now 31 years old, and many running backs see a substantial drop-off in production after cracking the big 3-oh.
Does he still have some fuel left in the tank? That is up to a number of NFL teams to decide.
McGahee is not the only highly-decorated veteran running back available on the free agent market. Former Texas All-American Cedric Benson also finds himself in need of employment. So does former Northern Illinois Star Michael “The Burner” Turner and his 7,338 career rushing yards since entering the league in 2004. Brandon Jacobs won a Super Bowl with the Giants, but was released by San Francisco after the 2012 season. Finally, Arizona’s 2009 first-round pick and former Ohio State star Beanie Wells rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2011 but has been oft-injured since.
Will any of these decorated veterans have the chance to shine under the spotlight yet again? Perhaps, but who might you want to sign if you had the chance?