The Kansas City Chiefs called Wednesday "Move-In Day" as they started their 2014 training camp in earnest. Only one important player was missing, and it was arguably the most important player on the roster -- running back Jamaal Charles. Charles was absent from camp because he was unhappy with the status of his current contract, a six-year, $27.97 million deal signed in 2010 that would have paid him $2.65 million with a $1 million reporting bonus in the 2014 season. Charles had made more money than every NFL running back except for Adrian Peterson over the last five seasons, but it was his contention that he had outperformed that deal.
The Chiefs, after one day of holdout, agreed. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Kansas City ripped up the last two seasons of Charles' deal and gave him a new two-year structure that will pay him $18.1 million overall, with $5 million in new money. Charles had been set to make a $4.75 million base salary, with another $1 million reporting bonus, in 2015.
Given his value to the Chiefs' total turnaround last season, Charles had a point. Kansas City went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 in 2013, and with new quarterback Alex Smith checking down as he usually does, Charles became the epicenter of the offense like never before. He was the only NFL back last year to lead his team in targets, catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, and his productivity in an offense where the quarterback was simply directed for the most part to avoid throwing the ball deep was truly exceptional.
Charles set career highs in yards from scrimmage (1,980) and combined rushing and receiving touchdowns (a league-leading 19). According to Football Outsiders' metrics, the Saints were the only team to throw more running back screens than the Chiefs, and Kansas City's 92.9% DVOA (FO's opponent-adjusted efficiency metric) on such plays ranked second behind the Eagles. Charles accounted for a league-high 35.3 percent of his team's yards and gained 1,287 yards on the ground despite the fact that he was the main point of focus for every enemy defense, and Smith's game meant that Kansas City often faced multiple safeties in or near the box.
The 27-year-old Charles, selected in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Texas, is reportedly en route to Chiefs camp at Missouri Western State University. He's gained 5,823 rushing yards and scored 29 rushing touchdowns on 1,043 carries in his NFL career, adding 1,975 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns on 222 catches.