Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles will a be a free agent, and the Oakland Raiders are in need of a running back. But they should pass on signing their longtime division rival.
Jamaal Charles is likely to become a Hall of Famer once he hangs up his cleats. He has been a monster for at least two thirds of his nine-year career in Kansas, and certainly has been one of the most productive backs in the league over that time. But his time is up and he shouldn’t be considered by the Oakland Raiders to replace Latavius Murray.
Before you start calling me names, let me elaborate.
First of all, Charles is already on the wrong side of 30, which is usually a critical age for running backs not named Frank Gore. If he continues to play, Charles will try to cash in one last time and will do so on his last legs.
If the above wasn’t bad enough, Charles is coming off two injury-plagued seasons. He only played five games in 2015 before tearing the ACL in his right knee, and three games in 2016 until severe pain in both knees put him on injured reserve.
Putting it clearly — Jamaal Charles is a gigantic question mark at this point, given his age and health concerns.
But even if he didn’t have those issues, there is still another critical reason for the Raiders to not pursue him, as I will explain below.
Except for the seasons when he was injured, it is true that Charles put up absurd numbers. But let me break those numbers down — particularly all-purpose yards from scrimmage and touchdowns.
In his last three healthy seasons (2012, 2013 and 2014), Charles finished with the following stats:
2012 – 1745 total yards and 6 TDs
2013 – 1980 total yards and 19 TDs
2014 – 1324 total yard and 14 TDs
However, among those massive numbers, one thing stands out: in 2012 out of those 1,745 all-purpose yards, 236 were receiving yards (13.5%). In 2013 that number grew to 693 out of 1,980 (35%), and in 2014 to 291 out of 1324 (21.9%).
The number of touchdowns followed the same trend: in 2012 Charles had just 1 receiving TD to pair with 5 running scores. In 2013, 7 of his 19 TDs came through the air. And in 2014 they were 5 out of 14.
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It is pretty obvious that a large chunk of Charles’ production is as a receiver, which is also a consequence of the Chiefs’ gameplay full of screens, but still.
Receiving ability is an excellent skill for a running back, but curiously this is exactly why Charles is not a fit to the Raiders.
As I discussed in another article, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard did a superb all-around job last year, and one of their main qualities is exactly to be good receivers.
In other words, the Raiders do not need another running back who excels at receiving like Charles. They need a short yardage back, a big body to carve out those tough yards between the tackles.
Jamize Olawale can carry this torch for a while, but it would be wise to add a more talented back for this task. But as talented as he is, Charles is just not the guy for this job. This year’s draft is full of interesting prospects.
It would be foolish to simply ignore Charles’ numbers but at this point of his career, either due to recent injuries or his skillset the Raiders should definitely not kick the tires on him in the upcoming free agency, after all, the Chiefs released him for a reason.