ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A day after this fifth fumble, Melvin Gordon reached his expiration date with the Broncos.
Denver waived the veteran running back Monday, ending a roller coaster, three-year ride. Gordon delivered 22 touchdowns in 41 games and 32 starts, but could not overcome his turnovers.
His fumble at the goal line in Seattle, the scoop and score in Las Vegas and Sunday's lost and recovered ball at the goal line defined this season. He was benched after the fumble vs. the Raiders on his first play of the game, and later against the Chargers on Monday night. That led to confusion when he was not given an explanation by running back coach Tyrone Wheatley. A subsequent meeting followed with GM George Paton and coach Nathaniel Hackett, where Gordon kept his starting job but saw his usage slip after the acquisition of Latavius Murray.
Gordon has fumbled five times this season, losing two. And he has had four game-changing fumbles the past two years, including against the Eagles and Chiefs. In his Broncos career, Gordon fumbled 12 times, losing nine.
Gordon has $940,000 remaining on his one-year contract that the Broncos owe him, though they will receive an offset if he signs with another team as a free agent.
The former Wisconsin star always talked after games, acting like a true professional even as this season dissolved. On Sunday, he admitted he put himself "in a bad position" to lose reps after Maxx Crosby punched the ball out at the goal line before halftime. The play looked worse when the Broncos suffered a blocked field goal on a low kick by Brandon McManus. I asked Hackett why he put Gordon in that leverage position, and he defended it, saying he's part of the team's goal-line package.
"You can't fumble there," Hackett said, while side-stepping why he was in the game in the first place place after Murray had already scored from the 1-yard line earlier in the game.
The move leaves Murray, who has been the team's best runner for weeks, as the starter. The team added veteran Marlon Mack a few weeks ago, and has Devine Ogizbo on the practice squad. The plan Sunday was to lean on Murray and Chase Edmonds against the Raiders, but Edmonds suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter and will be sidelined multiple weeks.