The New England Patriots reportedly expressed interest in signing running back C.J. Anderson when he was a restricted free agent two years ago. Anderson is no longer restricted and once again available, so could the Patriots renew their interest?

The Denver Broncos are releasing Anderson, a source told NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo. The 5-foot-8, 224-pound back rushed for 1,007 yards and three touchdowns on 245 carries in 2017. He added 28 catches for 224 yards with another touchdown.

In Anderson’s five-year NFL career, he has 693 carries for 3,051 yards with 20 touchdowns and 103 catches for 859 yards with four touchdowns. Anderson, 27, has just four fumbles in that span.

The Patriots already have Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill and Brandon Bolden on their running back depth chart, but they’re looking at top prospects at the position in the 2018 NFL Draft. Gillislee, Hill and Bolden are not locks to make the 53-man roster based on their contracts and guaranteed money.

It seems like it would be worth taking a flier on Anderson if the price is right for him to compete for a role with Gillislee and Hill.

Anderson finished 11th in Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating last season among qualified running backs, forcing 41 missed tackles on 273 touches and averaging 2.78 yards after contact. He finished first among qualified running backs in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency, allowing no sacks, one QB hit and two hurries on 87 pass block snaps.

Anderson has ranked significantly higher than Hill in elusive rating and pass blocking efficiency in each of the past three seasons. Hill signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Patriots with just $150,000 guaranteed.

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