Before his extension, Jamaal Charles’ annual average salary made him the 13th highest paid running back, falling between Ryan Mathews and Fred Jackson. He had two years left on that contract and would make up to $9.9 million. The extension he received from the Chiefs has been reported as two years and $18 million. The deal also included $5 million added over the course of the next two years. All in all, he’s now looking at earning $32.9 million over the next four years. Now, that may not sound bad to the average person but when you look at what Jamaal Charles has done for the Chiefs, this extension is a complete steal.
Over the past six years, Charles has carried the ball 1,043 times for 5,823 yards, making his career average yards per carry an amazing 5.6. That ranks him fourth among all NFL players with more than 750 carries to play the game in career yards per carry. I’ll give you a minute to process that. That is better than Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, and Barry Sanders. It is also better than every other current NFL player you could think of besides Michael Vick, who is first on the list.
How about his role in the passing game? He caught 70 balls for 693 yards and 7 touchdowns last year in Andy Reid’s offense. He led the team in all three of those categories. He was far ahead of anyone else on the team in yards after the catch with a whopping 669. In fact, he ranked second in the entire league in yards after catch behind only Demaryius Thomas. This means that the cumulative amount of yards the ball traveled through the air before getting into Charles’ hands was 24.
He is an integral, heavily used part of the new Chiefs offense. In 2012, prior to the Andy Reid era, Charles was on the field on 54.8% of Kansas City’s snaps. When Andy Reid was calling plays, Charles fell behind only Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy in field time last year - playing in 78.2% of Chiefs offensive snaps.
The Chiefs had just less than $10 million of cap space left this year but also have Alex Smith and Justin Houston waiting for contracts so they can’t break the bank. They couldn’t offer him a contract near what made Adrian Peterson the highest paid running back when he received a $96 million contract in 2011 that has him under contract until 2018. Perhaps the Chiefs have something bigger for Charles coming down the pike when his contract is up in 2018. Making an annual average now of $9 million out of this contract isn’t chump change. He’ll be paid as the second highest running back afterall. But his career numbers say he should be paid top dollar. If he would have tested free agency, he would’ve most likely received a record contract.
He is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He has never finished a season with a sub-five yards per carry average. He finished this past season as second among running backs with 1,980 yards from scrimmage, with only 24 of those not with the ball in his hand. He simply is the engine that makes the Chiefs run and for the price he is playing for, the Chiefs front office should be the happiest group in the NFL.