According to KCTV-5 news in Kansas City, the Kansas City Chiefs will be missing their best player on Wednesday when the veterans report to training camp because their All-World running back, Jamaal Charles, would like to be paid like one of the best running backs in the league and will hold out of camp in order to achieve it.
If Charles holds out for any length of time, it throws a giant monkey wrench into the Chiefs’ prospects for a successful 2014 season as Charles is by far their most important player. Charles still has two more years left on his current contract and is due to make $3.9 million this season, with a base salary of $2.65 million.
He is currently the 11th-highest paid running back in the league. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is the highest-paid back, making $11.75 million this year. However, players like Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, and C.J. Spiller will all make more than the Chiefs main man. Peterson is widely considered to be the best running back in the league, but none of those other players are close to Charles in production or value to their teams.
In a perfect world, Charles, age 27, would definitely be paid like the second or third-best back in the NFL because he is an elite player in every respect of the word. However, the Chiefs may think that there is no reason to mortgage the future and give more money to a player that is under contract through the 2015 season. Besides, they have potentially contentious contract talks with quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Justin Houston, two critical players in the last years of their contracts in 2014.
The lifespan of an NFL running back – especially one of Charles’ size (6-0, 200 lbs) and lightning-quick speed – is tenuous at best, which is why Charles would like to renegotiate his contract and get a bigger payday. Even his harshest critic (of which there are practically none) would have to admit that he has outperformed his original contract in every way.
While it may be open to argument from football fans, statistics show that NFL running backs generally hit their peaks at age 27 and usually have comparable stats at age 28, but face a dramatic decline from age 29 onwards. In addition, the role of running backs has been changing over the last decade with more emphasis on the passing game.
However, in Charles’ case, the Chiefs leaned on him more in 2013 than ever. Charles led the team last year not just in rushing with 259 carries for 1,287 yards, but also in receiving with 70 catches for 693 yards. There may not be any non-quarterback in the league who is more important to his team’s offense than Charles.
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