It may have seemed inevitable, but it finally happened. After a couple of injury-riddled seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs announced Tuesday that they had released the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Charles.
During his nine years in Kansas City, Charles posted nearly 10,000 all-purpose yards and found the endzone 64 times. Kansas City will certainly remember Charles as one of the best players in franchise history.
This is not a shock, but it’s still really sad. It’s like having a really old dog. You know he won’t live forever, but you don’t really ever expect him to die. For me, finding out Charles had been cut was like finding out Santa Clause wasn’t real. But alas, the NFL is a business and Charles’ departure is the reality.
Regardless, all Chiefs fans will look back and have fond memories of Charles. Just like they still wear the 58 at Arrowhead, I’m guessing we’ll still be seeing those 25’s for years to come. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks, Charles was the best runningback I’ve ever watched play. It’s hard to describe his style of play. He was unlike most other players. He had the Olympic speed that allowed him to bounce outside and run past the other 21 players in the blink of an eye. But at the same time he was a bruiser. He didn’t even weigh 200 pounds, but I’ve watched him repeatedly run the ball between the tackles, throwing defenders off of him and putting guys twice his size on their back. And through the air, his hands were as trustworthy as any back I’ve ever seen. Throw it to him out of the backfield or line him up out wide. Didn’t matter. He was going to beat his defender and make someone look foolish. Charles could’ve been a punter and still would have found a way to make a play. He simply had a nose for the endzone and a killer instinct. Simply put, Charles was electric.
Those who have been loyal to the Chiefs even in the darkest of seasons will remember Charles as a beacon of hope, especially in the years when the Chiefs coaching staff was incompetent and the roster was untalented. The fact that Charles was on the field meant that we had a chance. I’ve got to say, Charles made watching 2-win seasons a little less frustrating.
Now that Kansas City is looking like a Super Bowl contender, it seems wrong that Charles couldn’t stick around to win a ring with the team with whom he spent nine years. He carried that team for years and deserves it.
Despite all this, the NFL is a business and releasing Charles was a practical move. With two promising young backs in Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, it didn’t make a ton of sense to pay Charles the $7 million he was due this season. Personally, I’m not entirely convinced that Spencer Ware is the answer. He was inconsistent last year and oftentimes couldn’t deliver when they needed him to. I was hoping that the Chiefs would find a way to get Charles to take a pay cut, but with little cap space and a new monster deal for Eric Berry, finding money for a 30-year-old runningback wasn’t exactly a priority for general manager John Dorsey and the front office. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of the NFL (Not For Long). Charles will probably find a new team during free agency, as he is a proven player and plenty of teams have a need at the runningback position.
Honestly, Charles always seemed too good to be true. What he did was simply unreal. If I hadn’t seen him in person, I might think he was just a myth. Wherever he ends up next, I wish him the best. I just hope to God it’s not Oakland.