Analyst Picks Chiefs as Best Fit for Familiar RB - Sport News

Analyst Picks Chiefs as Best Fit for Familiar RB

The Kansas City Chiefs’ running back room is undoubtedly led by Isiah Pacheco, although the group is wearing a bit thin entering the 2024 NFL offseason.

Pacheco’s primary backups, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon, are set to enter free agency when the new league year begins. That means in less than a month, Pacheco may be the only halfback in the room with serious experience in the backfield. Supporting pieces like La’Mical Perine, Keaontay Ingram and Deneric Prince offer intriguing upside or traits, although they can’t necessarily be counted on to step up.

Analyst Picks Chiefs as Best Fit for Familiar RB

Should the Chiefs allow either or both of their more proven contributors to depart, it would make sense to make an acquisition. According to ESPN staff writer Matt Bowen in his top 50 free agents list, Kansas City is the best team fit for a familiar rival. Former Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is the pick:

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon heading to free agency, the Chiefs could sign Ekeler on a short-term deal to work in rotation with Isiah Pacheco. He would give coach Andy Reid a pass-game threat out of 21 personnel with the ability to flex from the backfield. Ekeler caught 51 passes last season with the Chargers and has 440 receptions in his career. Re-signing with the Chargers or joining the Raiders would also be good fits.

Ekeler, who turns 29 in May, has spent the entirety of his seven-year career in Los Angeles. In 103 regular-season games with the Chargers, the former undrafted free agent has carried the ball 990 times for 4,355 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also has 3,884 yards and another 30 scores out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

There aren’t many more suitable complementary producers and game-altering receiving threats than Ekeler. In each of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he rushed for over 900 yards with at least 12 touchdowns while also topping 600 receiving yards and at least five scores in that regard. (For reference, McKinnon logged 512 receiving yards during his standout 2022 effort.) Those 33 games saw Ekeler account for 38 all-purpose touchdowns and one top-10 finish in Offensive Player of the Year voting. All of this came with him sitting right around 65% of snaps played on offense.

The 2023 season wasn’t particularly kind to Ekeler. He showed some signs of slowing down, dealing with injuries at different points and missing three of the Chargers’ first four contests. From Week 12 to Week 18, he averaged three yards per carry and scored just once. For at least one year, it appeared as if Los Angeles’ unwillingness to extend his contract was wise.

Questions about how much Ekeler has left in the tank persist, and it’s reflected in his estimated free agent value. Valuations from OverTheCap, Pro Football Focus and Spotrac range from $5.7 million per year to an average annual value of $7.4M.

Given McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire’s combined 2023 cap number of just over $4.5M, even the low end of those projections would indicate Ekeler’s Chiefs-specific fit being a bit of a luxury signing. If he has a bit of a bounce-back season, he’d be a tremendous backup for Pacheco and help keep the former seventh-round pick fresh in a long season. Kansas City’s salary cap situation and its recent investments in the practice squad, however, suggest a lower-cost option may be more appropriate.

Related Posts

Packers Meeting With First-Round Pass Rusher

The Green Bay Packers have some options with the 25th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and they’re even doing their homework on potential pass rushers like Marshawn Kneeland…

Packers’ $18 Million All-Pro Named One of ‘Worst’ Signings of Free Agency

The Green Bay Packers made some splashier signings this offseason than fans are accustomed to seeing, though one is catching some early criticism. Ryan Fowler of Bleacher Report on Monday,…

Packers Predicted to Land ‘No. 1 Cornerback’ with ‘Twitch and Explosiveness’

The Green Packers have built a young and exciting offense around emerging quarterback Jordan Love and now might aim to replicate that playbook on defense. General manager Brian Gutekunst and the Packers took a…

Packers Predicted to Land Home-Run Threat at Running Back

The Green Bay Packers may not be done shuffling their backfield, and former Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright could be an ideal fit for what they need in the…

Malachi Corley named the best Day 2 fit for Eagles in 2024 NFL Draft

NFL teаmѕ covet аthleteѕ who cаn turn potentіаl ѕmаll ɡаіnѕ іnto exploѕіve, ɡаme-chаnɡіnɡ yаrdѕ аfter the cаtch. The 2024 NFL drаft іѕ here, leѕѕ thаn two weekѕ…

Vikings ‘Most Underpaid Player’ Poised to Sign Monster Extension

The Mіnneѕotа Vіkіnɡѕ ɡot off theіr moѕt expenѕіve contrаct when Kіrk Couѕіnѕ left for the Atlаntа Fаlconѕ, leаvіnɡ hіѕ top tаrɡet Juѕtіn Jefferѕon аѕ the prіme cаndіdаte…