The Kansas City Chiefs officially released Jamal Charles on Tuesday afternoon.
Charles had a $6.1 million cap figure for 2017 and none of it was guaranteed so cutting him was ultimately an easy business decision for the Chiefs.
Now that Charles is on the open market, the question is: could/should the Eagles sign him?
Let’s start by mentioning Charles has an obvious connection to Philadelphia. Charles was the Chiefs’ starting running back while now-Eagles head coach Doug Pederson served as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator. There’s a level of familiarity there.
The Eagles also have a glaring need at running back with Ryan Mathews expected to be cut for a savings of $4 million. Other Eagles running backs under contract include: Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall, and Terrell Watson. Kenjon Barner is set to be a restricted free agent.
None of the running backs currently on Philadelphia’s roster qualify as proven, full-time lead backs. At his peak, Charles was exactly that. He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards five times in his nine-year career. In 2012, he had a career-high 1,509 rushing yards. He’s also a threat as a receiver; Charles has notched 285 career receptions for 2,457 yards and 20 touchdowns.
When healthy, Charles is a really good player. The problem is the 30-year-old rusher hasn’t been healthy in a long time. Charles has only played in eight games over the past two seasons (83 combined rushing attempts). He tore his ACL in 2015 and then suffered a setback during the 2016 season. Charles had previously torn his ACL in 2011.
Charles is reportedly healthy now, but it remains to be seen if he’s still the player he once was. Signing him would represent a risk.
But that risk might be low due to Charles' injuries. His value shouldn’t be incredibly high. If the Eagles can take a low-cost flier on him, what’s not to like?
Some will say the Eagles shouldn’t sign Charles because he’s not a long-term fit for Philadelphia, and I understand that argument. But did you watch the 2016 season? Carson Wentz needs all the weapons he can get right now. And signing Charles hardly precludes the Eagles from selecting a potential long-term solution at running back in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Again, I’m not saying the Eagles should break the bank for Charles. Philadelphia has limited cap space to work with this offseason; they need to spend their money wisely. But the Eagles should still check out Charles' price tag and take a chance if it’s not too expensive.