On Tuesday, we learned of two running backs who are going to hit the free agent market this spring. One, Adrian Peterson, saw the Minnesota Vikings decline his contract option for 2017, making him an unrestricted free agent. APC broke Peterson down here, arguing that his skills would make him a poor fit for the Green Bay Packers.
The other running back on the market today is Jamaal Charles, whom the Kansas City Chiefs released this afternoon (according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter). Charles was set to make over $6 million this season, a price tag that the Chiefs could not afford given his recent production.
Charles has played just eight games over the past two seasons, and in that span he posted just 404 rushing yards, 191 receiving yards, and six total touchdowns. That does include a game in week 3 of 2015 against the Packers, who held him to 49 yards on 11 carries and 33 receiving yards on five receptions. Charles did score three times on the ground, however.
Unlike Peterson, however, I believe that Charles could garner some interest from the Packers on the free agent market this season. In his heyday, He displayed terrific skills as a receiver out of the backfield, recording 40 or more receptions in four different seasons. He also is an adept pass-blocker and could be counted on as a third-down back. With that said, Charles tore his ACL in 2015 and missed most of 2016 with complications from that injury. He also turned 30 years old in December and has a good deal of mileage on his legs, with over 1,300 NFL carries.
Still, the market price for Charles should be low, especially given his recent injury issues. If the Packers could bring him in on a cheap, incentive-laced contract with the intent of having him contribute in a rotation with Ty Montgomery (and potentially Eddie Lacy), he has the potential to be a valuable part of the offense.
The other benefit of Charles being released is that it makes him a street free agent rather than an unrestricted free agent; this means that he would not count against compensatory draft picks in 2018 for the team that signs him.