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Could Pro Bowl Running Back CJ Anderson Play In The XFL?

CJ Anderson runs past All Pro LB Luke Kuechly

The football life is tough. CJ Anderson fought his way from being an undrafted free agent to starting in the Broncos Super Bowl 50 offense and was a Pro Bowler coming off a 1000 yard season when he was cut by the Denver brass.

He landed in Carolina on a one year deal, where he backed up MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey and scored a touchdown on a very limited snap count. They cut him midway through the 2018 season before he was signed by the Raiders on December 5th. He was cut a week later.

A week after that, he signed with the Los Angeles Rams and went on a tear in lieu of an injured Todd Gurley. In a 5 game run from the end of the regular season to Super Bowl LIII, he rushed for 488 yards at 5.48 yards a clip and 4 scores against the league’s best.

Sean McVay’s offensive genius was outfoxed by Belichick’s stifling defense, and neither he or Todd Gurley could get the better of the Pats, but CJ had proved that he was still more than capable of handling a starting role.

Even after news broke of possible arthritis in Gurley’s knee, the Rams didn’t re-sign CJ Anderson. He went to the Detroit Lions, who cut him two games into the season. They now have the 21st ranked rushing offense, and the leading rusher in their injury-plagued backfield has just 350 yards and 2 scores. CJ didn’t get a call from them all season.

This past week, after losing Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and CJ Prosise, the Seahawks worked him out and led him to believe he would be their starter. Instead, they signed Marshawn Lynch. To add insult to injury, they signed another RB, Robert Turbin. Now, Lynch and Turbin are both talented backs who are familiar with the Seahawks offense, and I’m not here to take anything away from them. But it’s gotta be hard to be in CJ’s position.

He’s an established Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champ in his physical prime who just can’t find work. Given the right opportunity, I fully believe he could be having a resurgent season like Mark Ingram II (who’s 2 years older). Some are blaming league politics, but in my view, it’s because the NFL treats running backs like they’re expendable.

Enter The XFL

The new league is already seeing a swath of forgotten, but talented and productive rushers make their comebacks. From Christine Michael and Matt Jones with the Battlehawks to Cameron Artis-Payne with the Renegades and Andre Williams with the Roughnecks, veteran, pro-caliber running backs are a defining component of the XFL.

These 4 mentioned RB’s combined for a significant 3,554 rushing yards and 26 TDs. CJ has ran for 3,497 yards and 22 TD’s on his own, with an additional 900 receiving yards and 5 scores.

At 28 years old, he’d enter the XFL as one of the best, and would be posed to tear up defenses with whoever he played for. The XFL would offer not only a great opportunity for him to play, but also to prove to the NFL that he still has it, yet again.

In XFL’s first season in 2001, it was a platform for QB Tommy Maddox to do the same. He won the Million Dollar Game, then earned a spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. If CJ Anderson is done with the NFL, it would make sense, but either way, the XFL could be a great landing spot for him to play ball.

He did some great things in Denver during his tenure there and was the lone bright spot on offense during some tough years on offense from 2015-2017. He proved last year that he’s still a tough, mean runner with a chip on his shoulder, and XFL defensive coordinators will have a hard time stopping him if this is where he ends up.

Best Fits: Seattle Dragons, New York Guardians

He experienced most of his success in a West Coast zone running scheme, so Jim Zorn’s offense in Seattle is a natural fit. They could use a back who’s bruising up the gut, quick enough to make cutbacks and savvy in the passing game. The New York Guardians also have what’s looking to be the most talented OL group in the league, and with a young RB group who’s seen no regular-season pro-action, they could use someone like CJ to take the reins in the backfield.

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Matt Nagashima has been covering the XFL since before the 2019 Draft, and has witnessed history being made as a Credentialed Reporter for the Dallas Renegades. While he is engrossed with the X's and O's, the roster building and more, it has always been his goal to keep the players first in mind in coverage, showing the human aspect of this sport behind all the action on the field. With Dany Garcia and Dwayne The Rock Johnson now at the helm, he's excited to see all the opportunities that this league will create for players to showcase their talent and make their dreams come true.

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