Don't Kill The Mellinger

Here’s something about Jamaal Charles that Chiefs fans might regret reading

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles got past Tennessee Titans defensive end Ropati Pitoitua in a game last October.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles got past Tennessee Titans defensive end Ropati Pitoitua in a game last October. The Kansas City Star

So, you know that Jamaal Charles agreed to a contract extension with the Chiefs just ahead of the start of full-squad training camp today.

And if you read the good looking man here, you know that this deal was easy beginning of a more difficult process in getting an elite running back, elite pass rusher, and the starting quarterback who made the Pro Bowl last year signed long-term.

This is something we’ll talk a lot about in the coming days and weeks, obviously, so today I just want to pause a moment to focus on Charles.

Before we begin, let me be clear, if the column wasn’t enough: this was a no-brainer decision for the Chiefs. Especially with that group of receivers and an offensive line full of questions, the Chiefs are sunk without Charles. He is, at worst, one of the three best running backs in the NFL and at the height of his powers.

Charles is scheduled for more than $18 million in new money, including $5.1 million more in the next two years.

But when I was running through some things for the column, I did come across some stuff that Chiefs fans will probably regret reading.

We all know the career arcs of running backs are a bit like child pop stars. They age in dog years, the wear and tear of a high-intensity way to make a living usually catching up quicker than you’d think. 

The Chiefs have their own history here, even if it was two regimes ago that gave Larry Johnson a five-year extension before the 2007 season. Johnson was coming off a masterful season where he was the Chiefs’ offense, going for 2,199 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns in 2006. It took him the next three years combined to accumulate that many yards. He would score only nine more touchdowns the rest of his career.

You probably remember that Johnson took an inhumane 416 carries in that 2006 season, so maybe his decline was easy to predict, but consider this:

Johnson was three months from his 28th birthday with 892 carries, 97 receptions and no major surgeries in the NFL when he signed that extension.

Charles is now five months from his 28th birthday with 1,043 carries, 222 receptions and an ACL surgery.

The Chiefs had to do the deal, for many reasons. This is a great thing for the Chiefs.

But, you know. I’m just saying. Running backs, man.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to or follow on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to

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