The Jamaal Charles trade rumors aren’t hard to find. He’s been linked to the Colts, Cowboys, Patriots and plenty of others. But, though a trade might make sense for some of these other teams – such as the Colts – it just doesn’t make sense for the Chiefs.
A lot of it comes back to the success the team had last year. If you can win with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, why invest time and money in Charles? Why not move him and get something back, all while keeping the running game right where you want it?
Charles is simply too important for Kansas City to move, though. The Chiefs should not trade him, and they won’t. Here’s why.
What West and Ware did last season was great. They deserve praise and they helped the team when it was needed. But let’s not go overboard here. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to keep doing that.
Charles has been excellent for years. He’s the main offensive threat for the Chiefs in every game he plays in. He’s shown consistency, which is what really defines greatness in the NFL. A lot of guys have had 100-yard games, but only the great ones do that over and over again. The term “special talent” probably gets abused in the NFL, but that’s what he is.
Remember when Knile Davis was thought of as a terrific backup who could start when needed? It wasn’t that long ago. In 2014, he had 463 yards and six touchdowns. In 2015, a lot of people thought he’d step up, but he was nowhere to be found. He never started and had just over 70 yards on the year.
That’s not to say the same thing has to happen to West or Ware. But it shows how perceptions can shift. The Chiefs may like what they have in their young backs, but there’s no way to say right now, without a doubt, that they’ll be better than Charles.
That’s just too large of a gamble.
The Chiefs will never get Charles’ value back. His injury history and age – two reasons people have said they should trade him – keep the value too low. Maybe they’d get a fourth-round pick or a third-round pick at best. That’s great, but what would that turn that into? A rotational linebacker? A future slot receiver who can play special teams?
Long-term, there is value in those picks. Plenty of mid-round guys turn into stars. But the value on the field this year (and next) won’t be close. Charles, if healthy, is still a back who can take over a game. That’s a quality that’s insanely hard to find in the NFL. The Chiefs can fill out their roster in other ways. They don’t need to move a next-level player to try to add depth. That’s an overall decline in talent on the roster.
That said, if someone knocks their socks off with an offer, they can listen. But it’s just not going to happen. The value is just too low, and the Chiefs would take a step back. For them, the upside isn’t there.
The Chiefs are trying to win now. Alex Smith is 32. Wideout Jeremy Maclin is 28. Linebacker Derrick Johnson is 32. Even Justin Houston is 27.
That’s not to say they don’t have young stars, like second-year corner Marcus Peters, but this is a team with a lot of vets. The Chiefs were quiet in free agency and didn’t make huge moves in the draft, showing they think they’re already good enough to win right now. The goal is the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, not five years from now.
Trading Charles could help with the future, but it hurts the present.
For a team that won a playoff game just last year, the present is important. That window is only getting smaller. There will be a time to retool, but it’s not right now. With veteran players eating up a lot of the money, Kansas City has to do what it can to get wins now and worry about the future when it gets here.