INDIANAPOLIS — Jamaal Charles needs a new home. The Philadelphia Eagles want to add depth to the running back position. Given the tailback’s familiarity with Doug Pederson, the match makes almost too much sense.
“I’ve got some history with him in Kansas City for three years,” Pederson said. “I think he’s a tremendous running back and it’s something that we’ll evaluate now. And we’ll grade him just like we do every free agent and every person that’s released and see where he can fit into our offense.”
In Pederson’s first two years in K.C., Charles dashed for 5.0 yards per carry and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark each season. Since then, however, the 30-year-old back hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Charles played in just eight games the past two years. The Chiefs waived the running back with a failed physical designation Tuesday, per the league’s transaction wire.
Pederson’s comments reiterate that there will be interest in the Chiefs‘ all-time leading rusher. Kansas City coach Andy Reid later gushed about Charles’ attributes as a player.
“Jamaal’s one of my favorite guys to coach,” Reid said from the combine. “He did everything for us, from running inside — not a very big guy, but fearless — had the speed outside, world class speed, to turn the corner, had great hands. On top of that he’s a great kid. Dirty tough. You hate that situation. Whether he decides to play or not that’s up to him. But he doesn’t need to. He’s got a great legacy…but we all do get older and that’s the way the National Football League is today. I wish him the best in everything he does. Future Hall of Famer too.”
Charles will first have to prove he’s healthy enough to play before a team like the Eagles gambles on a talented but injury-prone player. With the money for Charles potentially lower than other free-agent options, he could be right in the Eagles‘ wheelhouse.
As for other backs in Philly, Pederson was unequivocal when asked if Darren Sproles would return in 2017.
“Darren will be back, yes,” the coach said of the 33-year-old jitterbug who is under contract through next season.
Philly currently has Wendell Smallwood returning from injury and Ryan Mathews — who could be released — rounding out the running back rotation. Adding depth through the draft and a lower-cost veteran like Charles makes plenty of sense for Pederson and GM Howie Roseman.