Jamaal Charles will turn 29 in December. He is coming off of his second ACL tear in five years. We are all witnesses to the fact that Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have proven to be capable players who can help Kansas City win, even in the playoffs. So the question a lot of people are asking is: What are the Chiefs to do with the aging Charles?
Some suggest that Kansas City should trade him. Their argument is rational, I suppose. The Chiefs could probably coax a third round pick out of another team in a trade, they would save a lot of money without him, and West and Ware are more than ready to run the backfield. West stepped in last year and ran for a team-leading 634 yards and found the end zone four times. Ware started playing a little later and ultimately ran for 403 yards and scored six touchdowns.
That’s all fine and dandy, but we all need to remember one thing. We are talking about the Jamaal Charles, the franchise’s all time leading rusher, and the guy who single-handedly carried the KC offense for at least five seasons and the guy who was having yet another fantastic season in 2015 before he hit some bad luck and tore his ACL. Charles is still really good. Like, right now. When he is healthy again (if you doubt he can come back at 100 percent check his Instagram page), he is going to be a top-five back, just like he has been since probably 2009. It is kind of ridiculous to consider trading your best player. I wonder if the Patriots ever think, “Gee, Tom Brady is, like, 40, and he hobbles around some time, maybe we should trade him for a younger and cheaper QB.” NO. The Patriots never think that. Sure, Brady is about as old as the printing press and he hobbles around every once in a while, but he still contributes a great deal to his team. The Patriots want to win Super Bowls, and they keep Brady so that they can do that.
That’s something that we should all think about. This is the best roster KC has had in years. The Chiefs are entering their Super Bowl window of opportunity. The time to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to KC is right now. They need to use every bit of talent they have, and that includes Charles. Could the Chiefs be a good team without him? Absolutely. Could they win playoff games? Probably. Could they win a Super Bowl? Hmmm. That’s tough.
The Chiefs need to hold on to Charles because he is the piece that pushes them over the top. He is the player that gives Kansas City an edge. He is an explosive player and can make a big play on any given carry. Those impactful plays are important when it comes to playoff time (see just about any Super Bowl). The Chiefs need Charles if they want to win a Super Bowl before the team gets old and the window of opportunity closes up.
I don’t want to discredit West or Ware. They are both great players and they filled in nicely for the NFL’s best back last season. I think at least one of them will do a great job anchoring the Kansas City backfield a couple of years from now. But for now, the backfield should belong to its rightful owner, and that is Jamaal Charles.
Feature photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.