Jamaal Charles is now a Denver Bronco.
Let that sink in.
The Chiefs all-time leading rusher (7,260) was released in February as a salary cap casualty – due $8 million after playing just 8 games over the last two seasons. His one-year deal is worth up to $3.5M in incentives, but a base salary of only $900,00 is a cheap risk/reward deal for Denver.
There have been plenty mixed emotions from Chiefs fan – from wondering how anyone can play for their former rival, to wishing him luck because no ill will to a guy that wants a job, to ‘who cares, he’ll get hurt anyway.’ Any of them are understandable.
For me, I held out hope that maybe he would return to Kansas City on an incentives-based deal similar to what he received in Denver, but it was clear any glimmer that would happen was gone when the Chiefs selected Toledo running back Kareem Hunt – trading up to get him – in the third round in draft. Running back is a young man’s position, and at Charles age (surprisingly only 30, but still on the older side for a RB), and with his injuries, his best years are easily behind him.
As great as he was for this team, it’s a shame he never won a playoff game, and never had much of a passing game to support his sometimes other-worldly efforts, until, ironically, the last two years. Still, the overlooked and undersized Charles set records and left his mark on the league. His career yards per carry is still a NFL record (5.5), and in 2012 he rushed for over two hundred yards TWICE. Only Dustin Colquitt (drafted in 2006), Tamba Hali (2006), and Derrick Johnson (2005) as the only Chiefs still on the roster pre-2007 now that Charles is gone.
His deal COULD be worth $3.5M, but, his base salary is only $900,000 – chump change in the NFL and hardly nothing for a guy like Charles, who made over $40M in Kansas City, despite his current situation. While I was 100% behind releasing him – because it’s a business and in business you make decisions with your brain and not your heart. But, this poses a few questions:
- If you can get Jamaal Charles – even if he’s 70% of what he once was – for $900K, would you take him?
- Did Kansas City even want him back? We know his medical history more than anyone else. But, he did pass a physical.
- Did Jamaal want to come back? (I think he did). But, maybe he didn’t, out of spite of being released (but, he had to know that was coming, right?). He also held out once because Colquitt – A PUNTER – was making more money than him. And, arguably the franchise botched his knee surgery. So, maybe he said “F*** You” and went to a rival. Green Bay reportedly showed interest, but who knows how much, and if they were willing to offer him a contract. Evidence points to this:
- Did the Chiefs think he would cost too much for what he is now and already made a decision on him, so there was no looking back?
I HATE the Broncos and Raiders. I remember the day when players wouldn’t dare play for a former rival. But, let’s not forget Marcus Allen, Chester McGlockton and Eddie Kennison, to name a few, coming to Kansas City. Charles is one of my favorite Chiefs, ever. I’m sure a lot feel that way. And, he’s also the best running back in franchise history. That’s why this hurts. Anywhere but within the division – anywhere but Denver or Oakland. But, it’s a business and he made a business decision. I hate that he is in Denver, but I choose NOT to hate him. He did what he had to do. So did the Chiefs.
His career in Kansas City ended with a dud, as he played just one snap in what ended up being the final game.
But, there are hundreds of Charles memories. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites from the man who will one day be recognized at halftime in front of a standing ovation, earning his spot in the Chiefs Ring of Honor – just like another “traitor” in Neil Smith (although the situations are a bit different, as Smith was ring-chasing).
November 22, 2009: Still trying to make his way as a running back in the NFL, Charles spent time displaying his speed as a kick returner, running back the opening kickoff in a 27-24 OT win over the Steelers.
Charles went on to rush for 807 yards in six games after that game in 2009, and for 1,000 yards in just 10 starts (968 yards over his last 8 games – 121 yards per game) and the rest is history. The Chiefs won just four games that year, but in a memorable finale, it was again Charles who had a big role, on January 3, 2010, running for a Chiefs single-game rushing record of 259 yards while adding two scores on 25 carries in a 44-24 win, keeping the Donkeys out of the playoffs. If you remember, this is the two pick-6 game from Derrick Johnson – a big F-You to Todd Haley, who kept Johnson on the bench for most of the season. Charles first 100-yard game came at Oakland (18-103) in Week 8, after carrying the ball a total of 10 times over his first two “starts.”
September 23, 2012: In his first of two 200-yard games in 2012, Charles ripped off this memorable 91-yard run with the Chiefs, staring 0-3 in the face, down 24-6.
The Chiefs went on to win the game in overtime and Charles finished with 233 yards rushing on 33 attempts and also hauled in six receptions for 55 yards. It was the third game removed from missing the final 14 games + three quarters of 2011 with his first ACL injury. Charles finished the 2012 season with his highest-ever rushing total (1,509 yards), despite the Chiefs winning just one more game all season. In his other 200+ yard game in 2012 (and third of career), the Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to lose when rushing for 350 yards. Charles ran for 226 yards on 22 carries and scored the Chiefs only TD in a 20-13 loss to the Colts in Week 16. The Chiefs out-gained the Colts 507-288. Brady Quinn was the starting QB that day (10-22, 162 yards, 2 INT). Awww, the memories.
December 15, 2013: Charles sets another Chiefs record after record with a 5-TD game at Oakland, in what I think his his most memorable game as a Chief. In this 56-31 win, he ran for just 20 yards on 8 carries, but destroyed the Raiders after the catch – a career-high 195 yards and four scores.
Franchise, and even some league records, fell in the victory, which clinched a playoff spot for the Chiefs, 11-3 at the time, and extended the largest single-season turnaround in franchise history. A look at his historic day:
- With five touchdowns (one rushing, four receiving), he became the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown receptions and one touchdown run in a single game.
- Charles’ four receiving touchdowns were the most by a running back in a single game in NFL history.
- Charles’ five total touchdowns tied Chiefs Hall of Famer Abner Haynes’ 52-year-old club record for most touchdowns in a single game, set in 1961 when Haynes rushed for four and caught one touchdown pass against the Raiders on Nov. 26, 1961, when the franchise was still the Dallas Texans.
- Charles recorded four of his five touchdowns in the first half, becoming only the 10th player since 1940 to score four touchdowns in the opening half of a contest. He is the fourth player to accomplish the feat since 1991. The league record is five, set by Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in 2002. Then-Chief Priest Holmes also had a 4 TD half (2004).
- Charles became the second player in franchise history with four receiving touchdowns in a single game, joining wide receiver Frank Jackson, who caught four touchdown passes on Dec. 13, 1964. Charles’ previous single-game high for receiving touchdowns was two, coming vs. Tennessee on Dec. 26, 2010.
- Charles became the 11th player in NFL history to record five scrimmage touchdowns, an NFL single-game high. The last time this was accomplished was Sept. 29, 2002, by Alexander.
- Charles’ 195 receiving yards rank as the fifth-best mark in NFL history by a running back and is the second-best single-game total by a running back in team history to Chiefs Hall of Famer Curtis McClinton’s 213 yards, which is the NFL record for a running back.
- Charles had 16 total touches in the game (eight rushing, eight receiving) and scored five touchdowns, or on 31.3 percent of his touches
Have yourself a day.
October 19, 2014: Many players become their franchise’ all-time leader at something on a meaningless play that no one remembers. But, for Charles, that is not the case. In Week 7, on a play that looked like a run out of bounds for no gain, Charles’ speed allowed him to gain the edge and get the entire defense going in one direction. At that point he could have gone down, and the Chiefs would have been satisfied with a first down, but, instead, using his fantastic field vision, he cut-back and helicoptered across the goal line on a hit from Brandon Flowers, doing damage to his former teammate, for a 16-yard score.
November 11, 2016: Against of the league’s best defenses of all-time, Charles ran it 20 times for 159 yards in guiding the Chiefs to a 24-20 victory over the eventual Super Bowl runner-up Seahawks.
Charles would go on to have just one more 100-yard game in his career – a Thursday Night 125-yard Home Opener effort in Week 2 of 2015, but what people remember most from that game are his two fumbles, the first in the red zone, and then this, with the score tied, 24-24, Chiefs coach Andy Reid elected to “run” out the clock:
Two games later, Charles had himself a 3-TD game on Monday Night Football at historic Lambeau Field in a losing effort (38-28). He would play two more games that season, and just five more in Kansas City.
And now, he’s a Donkey.
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