Samaje Perine went from one timeshare in Cincinnati, where he played behind Joe Mixon the past three seasons, to one in Denver, where he projects as the primary reliever to Javonte Williams.
Perine said Thursday that new Broncos coach Sean Payton sold him on joining Denver and eschewing other chances to potentially carve out a starter-type role by underscoring how the former New Orleans Saints coach has utilized multiple running backs in the past.
“What it came down to, really, was how up front Denver was with me as far as playing time and what coach Payton wants to do with me, personally, and what he wants to do as an offense,” Perine said, via the Denver Post. “The first time I talked with coach Payton when everything opened up — that first day — the thing he really emphasized was his history of using multiple backs, using two backs in his time with the Saints and going through the history of the backs he’s had.
“That made my decision a tad bit easier.”
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During his 15 years with the Saints, Payton indeed found production out of multi-player backfields. From the start with Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, Payton always coaxed output from more than one back. Pierre Thomas and Bush thrived. Heck, Mike Bell had a 654-yard season alongside Thomas and Bush. Chris Ivory joined the fun for a few years. At one point, Payton juggled a Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas/Chris Ivory/Darren Sproles backfield. There was the Ingram/Tim Hightower season. Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Kamara and Latavius Murray. And in his final season with New Orleans, Payton even got 374 yards on the ground out of quarterback Taysom Hill.
So, yeah, Payton has the track record of utilizing more than one back that should assuage Perine’s concerns about getting saddled to the bench once again.
Prioritizing signing Perine to open the offseason does spark some questions about whether Williams will be fully healthy to start the season or whether his gruesome knee injury suffered in October could linger and hinder his entire 2023 campaign.
In the meantime, the Broncos added Perine and signed Tony Jones Jr. on Thursday, who spent two seasons in New Orleans with Payton, carrying 57 times for 155 yards combined.
Perine added that he believes the Broncos can make a quick turnaround in Payton’s first season.
“When Javonte does come back and he is fully healthy, I’ve seen him on film and I’ve seen the kind of runner he is,” Perine said. “And a full game’s worth of two backs who run the ball physically, straight down your throat? That’s going to be, in my opinion, pretty dangerous. With (Russell Wilson) and everyone around it, I feel like we have the potential to be a pretty dangerous offense.
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m excited to get up there and get to work and let things fall into place like they should.”
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