While the contract status of Justin Houston and Alex Smith has gotten all the ink, the Chiefs have had talks with Jamaal Charles regarding a new contract, a source told The Star on Tuesday.
The source also told The Star that the Chiefs think Charles will report to camp the first day veterans are required to attend camp at Missouri Western, regardless of whether an extension has been agreed upon or not.
A KCTV5 report surfaced late Tuesday afternoon saying Charles would hold out for more money, causing some concern about his status. The Chiefs will hold their first practice with all the veterans on Thursday.
Charles, 27, is coming off a career year in which he racked up 1,980 yards from scrimmage, scored 19 total touchdowns and made his third Pro Bowl.
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Charles was in attendance for the majority of organized team workouts in June and was also present at the beginning of offseason workouts in April. He also attended the three-day mandatory minicamp at the end of June, unlike Houston, the 25-year-old star pass rusher who is also angling for a new deal.
If Charles did hold out, he could lose a $1 million reporting bonus. But he could still be motivated to hold out because he is scheduled to make a relatively paltry $3.9 million in cash this season, which is third among the Chiefs’ 11 projected starters on offense.
It’s also about the same amount of money that will be paid to new Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart — who rushed for 1,000 fewer yards and 10 fewer touchdowns than Charles did last year and who doesn’t come close to matching Charles’ resume.
Charles’ current contract runs through the 2015 season, in which he is scheduled to earn $6 million. By the time he hits free agency, he will turn 29 during the 2016 season — an age when running backs tend to shows signs of decline and have trouble getting paid.
According to NFL Players Association records, the Chiefs are currently about $9.4 million under the salary cap. However, they have also been in negotiations with Houston and Smith, who will both be free agents in 2015.
The Chiefs can only use the franchise or transition tag on one of them, so if they don’t agree to a deal with one of them before free agency next season, they could be forced to make a choice between the two and let the other hit the market.
The Star reported last week that Houston is upset about the fact that he doesn’t have an extension yet, but is likely to attend camp.
Smith reported to camp with the rookies and quarterbacks and has taken part in the first two practices.