Allen Park, Mich. – The Detroit Lions announced today that they have signed unrestricted free agent RB C.J. Anderson. Additional contract terms were not disclosed.
Anderson comes to Detroit after splitting the 2018 season between the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Rams, appearing in 11 games (three starts) and totaling 67 carries for 403 yards (6.0 avg.) and two touchdowns. He spent the previous five seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos (2013-17), playing in 58 games (36 starts) and producing 693 carries for 3,051 yards (4.4 avg.) and 20 touchdowns during that span.
Anderson originally entered the NFL with the Broncos as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013 out of California. He helped the Broncos capture Super Bowl 50 and topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2017.
If not for C.J. Anderson, the Los Angeles Rams may not have reached the Super Bowl. He helped them secure a first-round bye with 100-yard performances in the last two games of the regular season before racking up 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ win over Dallas in the divisional round.
He filled in admirably for the injured Todd Gurley, looking like a Pro Bowl back behind the Rams’ outstanding offensive line. As good as he was, his stay in L.A. might have been brief. Anderson is a free agent and has yet to be re-signed by the Rams, who matched the Lions’ offer sheet for Malcolm Brown to bring him back next season.
Anderson tweeted last week that he had yet to receive a single offer from a team this offseason, seemingly generating little interest on the open market. On Thursday, he shared two cryptic tweets that suggest the Rams won’t be bringing him back in 2019.
Hours after that tweet was posted, Anderson shared this message, as well. He says he just wants the chance to play all 16 games as the starter without teams making excuses.
He doesn’t want to hear about how coaches and general managers “like this guy” instead. Anderson wants the chance to play all 16 games so he can show what he’s capable of.
The Detroit Lions signed C.J. Anderson with a thought of him playing a big role for the team’s running game, and they got Anderson to come to town on a big deal with which to do so. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Anderson will be cashing in on a $1.5 million dollar contract which includes a $200,000 signing bonus.
“The Lions gave veteran RB CJ Anderson a 1-year deal worth nearly $1.5M, source said. He got a $200K signing bonus,” Rapoport tweeted. “The max CJ Anderson can earn with incentives is $3M,” he also said.
After the move to sign Anderson was made official, veteran DetroitLions.com columnist Mike O’Hara revealed some serious facts as it relates to Anderson’s stats in the league thus far, namely, the fact that the runner has never averaged below 4.0 yards per-carry in a season.
“Six reasons to like the Detroit Lions’ signing of veteran RB C.J Anderson,: 5.4, 4.7, 4.7, 4.0, 4.1, 6.0. Those are his yards per carry in all six of his seasons. Never below 4.0,” O’Hara tweeted.
Stats like that only prove how much Anderson could be worth the money in the end for Detroit, and on the whole, the contract is very palatable for the Lions, who could stand to gain a ton if Anderson plays like he has in the past for them.
Before joining the Raiders and Rams, Anderson spent five total seasons in Denver, rushing for 3,051 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also brought in 103 receptions for 859 yards and five touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2014 when he ran for 849 yards and eight touchdowns. Although his best statistical rushing season came in 2017 when he ran for 1,007 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the production, the Broncos opted to release Anderson the following April right before the 2018 NFL Draft. John Elway would go on to draft running back Royce Freeman from the University of Oregon and sign Phillip Lindsay as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Colorado.
The former Broncos runner later signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers following his release, but he was only on the team until November 12th after Christian McCaffrey’s continued emergence pushed him to the sidelines. Anderson finished his brief stint in Carolina with 24 carries for 104 yards and one reception for 24 yards and a touchdown. Following his release by both the Panthers and Raiders, Anderson’s time in the NFL appeared to be over, but the Los Angeles Rams brought him to town and reaped serious benefits.
He rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals and then finished off the regular season with 132 yards and another score against the 49ers. Once the playoffs arrived, he turned another corner and became even more productive. In the NFC Divisional victory over the Cowboys, Anderson piled up 123 yards and two touchdowns while running through this vaunted defense with ease. Admittedly, Anderson was less effective in the NFC Championship (44 yards) and Super Bowl LIII (22 yards), but much of this was owed to overall offensive dysfunction. The Rams struggled to get into a rhythm in both games, resulting in fewer touches for both Anderson and Gurley. Before his deal in Los Angeles, the Lions looked at signing Anderson. Clearly, they still liked what they saw from the durable back.
Anderson has been durable, solid and available, which figures to be a dream combo for the Lions, who would like to see him continue to hammer out the yards. He will do so, and the team hopes he earns every bit of his money in 2019.