Chances Jamaal Charles Returns This Season Increasing?

Jamaal Charles underwent his third knee surgery in the past five years today, but the procedure raised the Chiefs’ hopes their all-time leading rusher can return this season.

The Dr. James Andrews-performed surgery went well, so much so Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets the ninth-year running back has a shot to come back and help the Chiefs in the 2017 portion of their 2016 campaign.

This is likely contingent on the team being in playoff contention by the time Charles is eligible to come off Kansas City’s IR in Week 17. Advancing to the playoffs in 2013 and ’15, and being knocked out of the 2014 race in Week 17, the Chiefs have been in contention in the season’s final week in each of Andy Reid‘s three seasons in Missouri. With the team having won its past three and being one of three AFC West outfits with two losses, Kansas City is heading down that road again and could certainly use Charles if he’s able.

Charles will turn 30 days before the Chiefs-Chargers New Year’s Day tilt and has not been healthy since tearing his ACL in October of last year. He underwent the additional knee surgery today as an exploratory measure after swelling prevented the two-time All-Pro from suiting up in Week 8. According to Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder (via KCChiefs.com), Charles experienced pain in both knees after the Raiders game less than three weeks ago.

However, the optimism should obviously be contained since Charles has not recovered from an ACL injury 13 months ago and has two ACL tears on his record since 2011. Spencer Ware has filled in remarkably well as a starter, just as Charles did when he commandeered the job from Larry Johnson in 2009. Ware’s averaging 5.0 yards per carry, has 824 yards from scrimmage and has started all seven of Kansas City’s contests.

Charles profiles as a cap casualty in 2017 since he’s due $7MM in nonguaranteed money for a team that stands to possess one of the tightest budgets come March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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