Jamaal Charles’ sterling nine-year run in Kansas City has come to an end, as the Chiefs announced Tuesday they have released the star running back.
Charles, 30, was set to enter the last year of his contract, which came with a $7 million salary cap number. The Chiefs will gain approximately $6.187 million in cap savings by releasing him.
“I have a great deal of admiration for Jamaal Charles, his toughness, and what he’s been able to achieve in his time in Kansas City,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a release from the team. “These decisions are never easy, but we felt it was in the best interests of the club to move on at this time. We wish Jamaal and his family the best of luck in their next step.”
The move ends a largely brilliant tenure for Charles, who leaves the Chiefs as their career rushing leader with 7,260 yards — nearly 1,200 more than Priest Holmes.
Charles’ career yards-per-carry average of 5.5 ranks first among NFL running backs, ahead of Hall of Famers Jim Brown, 5.2, Gale Sayers, 5.0, and Barry Sanders, 5.0.
“I’d like to thank Jamaal Charles for his contributions and dedication over the last nine seasons,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “Jamaal has been one of the most prolific players in our organization’s history, and I have an enormous amount of respect for what he has accomplished. He’ll always be a part of the Chiefs family, and we’ll be ready to honor him for his outstanding playing career when the time is right.”
In many ways, the right anterior cruciate ligament that Charles tore against the Chicago Bears in October 2015 was the beginning of the end of his run in Kansas City. He rehabbed the knee and returned for the Chiefs’ Week 4 game last season against Pittsburgh, eventually logging season-highs with 11 touches and 15 snaps in an Oct. 16 win over Oakland.
But Charles’ knee swelled after a practice the following week, and he only logged two snaps Oct. 23 against the Saints. He missed the next game against Indianapolis and visited noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews shortly thereafter, a move that eventually landed him on injured reserve after rushing only 12 times for 40 yards and a touchdown.
At the time, Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder said there was a belief Charles had a meniscus tear. Andrews told Charles that was indeed the case, and Charles was grateful it wasn’t another ACL tear.
“A meniscus is minor in comparison,” Charles wrote in a blog post on his website, jamaalcharles25.com. “People have played through it, and guys tolerate that. My body wasn’t adapting to it, but that’s OK. I was thankful my ACL was still intact because it meant there was still a chance for me.”
Charles made the decision to have surgery.
Charles has indicated a desire to play four more years or so, and a source says the 5-foot-11, 199-pounder expects to be 100 percent for offseason training.