Englewood, Colo. – The return of Philip Lindsey and the Denver Broncos from his hometown is fraught with strange twists and turns that inevitably led to his departure.

Lindsey rushed for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019.

Still, the Broncos signed Melvin Gordon to a two-year, $16 million contract through 2020, just weeks after he said the organization would consider renegotiating the contract Lindsey had reportedly outbid them on.

In 2021, the Broncos offered Lindsay the lowest possible level – right of first refusal with no compensation to the Broncos if he signed elsewhere.

Last week, the Broncos signed Mike Boone, who carried 71 times in three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings when new Broncos general manager George Paton was the Vikings’ assistant general manager. After discussions with Lindsay and his representatives, the decision was made to withdraw the offer and allow Lindsay to become an unrestricted free agent, while he and the Broncos posted a very public farewell on social media.

I am very grateful for my time with the Denver Broncos. In Colorado, I was able to fulfill my dream of playing for my hometown team. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, staff and everyone in the Broncos organization who made this possible. https://t.co/drjm9qep4E

– Philip Lindsey (@I_CU_boy) 18. March 2021

He’s been a great player here and in the community, and he’s been one of the Broncos’ most popular players the last few years, Paton said Thursday. And we wanted Phillip to go out there to maximize his value, so we did that. He deserved it.

On Friday night, Lindsey agreed to a contract with the Houston Texans.

When Gordon’s drunk driving charge was dropped in Denver District Court last month, the threat of a suspension by the NFL for the upcoming season was largely removed. In word and deed, the Broncos have treated Gordon since the end of the 2020 season as if he were their No. 1 and Lindsey is not.

Boone, who didn’t get much of a start as Minnesota’s backup to Dalvin Cook, has developed into a versatile special teams player the Broncos need in units that have struggled to reach mediocre status in recent years.

When he was officially introduced by the team on Thursday, Boone was awkwardly named as the replacement for Lindsey, the first player in the Broncos’ high school program to be sponsored in the Denver area who still plays for the team.

That’s my boy. Give my regards to Phil. We’ve been practicing with our rookies [years] coming into the NFL, Boone said. I’m here to be myself. Hats off to Phil. Great respect and a great athlete, but I’m just here to be myself and do my best.

Excited, Boone added. I am grateful to George [Paton] and head coach Vic [Fangio]. I’m here to do what the organization wants me to do, whether it’s the 2nd Amendment or not. Running back] or special teams. Wherever they see me, I am excited and will do my best.

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If free agency continues in the coming weeks, the Broncos could draft another running back, but it won’t be Lindsey. To cut to the chase, injuries, special teams and the desire to have more impact as a running back in the passing game seem to outweigh Lindsay’s obvious explosiveness. Last season Lindsey led all runners with at least 20 yards, despite running for 97 yards less than Gordon.

Lindsay played in 15 and 16 games respectively in his first two seasons in the league – he started 16 games in season 19 – but had to undergo wrist surgery after each of those seasons. He suffered a concussion last season that reduced his offensive speed and ended the season in intensive care with knee and hip injuries.

He also converted 14 targets on just seven receptions in the passing game after an offseason in which he spent a lot of time working on his receiving skills. Having played just one game on the special team in the last two years, the recipe for his departure was perfect.

Paton has spoken both publicly and within the Broncos complex about the need for more players on offense for special teams.

Boone] will add special teams on the offensive side of the ball that we don’t have, Paton said Thursday. I’m really glad Mike Boone is here.

As a running back, Boone’s resume is thin, aside from his work in pregame games or occasionally filling in for Cook in nickel and dime situations, though he hopes for a bigger role.

I consider myself one of them. I like to make my cuts and then come down, Boone said. He fits the bill for this offense, and I feel like I can be versatile and make the offense a little more explosive each time I’m called upon.

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