Analysis: Is it time to trade Jamaal Charles?

With the new season upon us, there has never been a better time for the Chiefs to welcome back their star players, more importantly the return of Jamaal Charles after his season ending ACL tear in the Week 5 loss to the Bears in 2015.

The question was raised, “did the Chiefs offense prove in 2015 that there is life after Charles?” after the unforgettable season of 2015 with the 10 game winning streak and finally getting the monkey of their backs with the elusive playoff win.

Undoubtedly, on the back of those performances, the coaching staff have the luxury of easing Charles back into the Chiefs camp at a slower pace than they normally would have done, which can only help Charles feel fully prepared for the season ahead. With confidence flying high and the emergence of two young running backs in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, does this mean the beginning of the end of Charles’ time at the Chiefs?

The Chiefs fans loyal to Charles would argue that adding him into a talented offensive lineup in 2016 would be an exciting prospect and could be the shot in the arm that the team needs to push even further into the playoffs. It’s difficult to argue against this, because surely adding Charles into an offense that has found new meaning and new ways of winning is only going to keep opposing teams guessing?

When the San Diego Chargers defense lines up face to face with the Chiefs in Week 1, they’ll have the headache of trying to work out the Chiefs playbook due to the amount of weapons at their disposal. The Wide Receivers, led by Jeremy Maclin, the Tight Ends led by Travis Kelce and now the Running Backs being led by arguably one of the greatest Running Backs currently in the NFL.

Instead of the Chiefs having the element of surprise like they did in 2015, they now have the ability to stretch the oppositions defences at will, which is something the Chiefs have never been able to do since the days of Joe Montana and Marcus Allen.
However there are Chiefs fans out there that believe the team must move on from Jamaal Charles, their argument being that the Chiefs have proved their offense is much more capable as a team unit now than it ever was with Charles as the galloping lone ranger. Plus with the injuries and the age Charles is (29) some fans believe that releasing him or even trading him for high end Draft picks would be more beneficial to the team as it would release a lot of cap space to fill more problematic areas. But is this theory justified, given the fact the Chiefs have not had an offensive unit like this for a very long time?

Whichever camp you’re in, there is a lot to be said about how the Chiefs will accommodate three Running Backs in the 2016 season. With his catching ability and lightening speed, Charles could see his number of snaps increase in a slot receiver position or screen passing plays, instead of the familiar role we see him in at Running Back. Charles can be seen as a utility player for the Chiefs, leaving Andy Reid to concentrate on using his young guns, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, to continue their partnership of sharing the snaps at Running Back. If either gets injured then Charles is there to fill that position when needed.

 

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Tim Umphrey/ AP Press

What Charles brings to the Chiefs this season is experience and most importantly, depth. The lack of depth has been glaringly obvious over the last three or four seasons for the Chiefs, but it is getting better. General Manager, John Dorsey, has addressed the Offensive line issues in key areas, mainly the Wide Receivers after signing Rod Streater, drafting Demarcus Robinson and Tyreek Hill, which creates competition with young talent such as Chris Conley. Dorsey also kept the core nucleus of the defence by signing Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson to contract extensions. So the depth is there for the Chiefs this season, its now time to see if the depth is really there to make it a season to remember.

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