Jamaal Charles

Latest On Jamaal Charles

It was said earlier this offseason that Broncos RB Jamaal Charles may only have a 50-50 chance to make Denver’s roster, and no one seems to know when he will make his preseason debut. He did not participate in the team’s first preseason matchup Thursday night, and head coach Vance Joseph said, “I’m not sure yet,” when asked if Charles would play against the 49ers next Saturday, as Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes.

Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

If Charles did not have a history of injury problems, his not participating in any preseason games would not be a big deal. After all, he is entering his tenth professional season and his track record of production (when healthy) speaks for itself. But he has undergone multiple knee surgeries over the past several years, and he has seen limited practice time this offseason as he continues to recover.

That reality, combined with Charles’ fairly modest contract, helped generate the earlier reports that Charles’ roster status was up in the air. But the fact that Joseph said several weeks ago that the team would continue to proceed cautiously with Charles even though he was fully cleared from a medical standpoint indicated that Charles was going to make the club, and as Kosmider reports, his full-team repetitions have been elevated during the past week. Devontae Booker‘s recent injury has also given Charles a little job security.

Nonetheless, Joseph did say that he would “probably” need to see Charles participate in a preseason game before he makes a final decision. While it currently seems as if Charles has a good chance to make the team and be a significant contributor to boot, it’s fair to wonder if injuries and age have caught up with him, especially given that his game is predicated on speed and elusiveness.

For his part, Charles said he has had no setbacks, even though he has made a concerted effort to test his knee as much as possible. He said, “I don’t think I have to prove anything. People know what I can do. I feel confident. Whatever Coach Vance and the trainers say, that’s their direction. I’m just out here every day just getting healthy and getting my craft ready and preparing to play whenever.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Broncos

Contract extensions may be in the offing for Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Colbert’s contract will expire after next year’s draft, while Tomlin is still under wraps for two more seasons. That’s typically when the Steelers have worked to extend their head coaches in the past, observes Bouchette. They’ve had just three since 1969, the year of Chuck Noll‘s hiring. Bill Cowher also came before Tomlin, who has mimicked those two with a resoundingly successful run in Pittsburgh. The Tomlin-led club has made the playoffs seven times out of 10, including last year, and hasn’t finished with fewer than eight wins in a season. Overall, the Steelers have gone 103-57 with a Super Bowl victory and two AFC championships under Tomlin.

More from the AFC:

  • One of Tomlin’s AFC North rivals, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, seems less secure in his role. Lewis is in a contract year, but owner Mike Brown indicated Tuesday that he’ll go at his own pace on a potential extension for the coach, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Still, Brown is satisfied with Lewis, who trails only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick in tenure among head coaches. “That should tell you how I feel about him. He has my respect, my regard, my confidence,” said Brown. “We’ve been through this before. Sometimes it was an additional prod. Heck, we all know how it went last year. We wish it had gone better, so maybe we’ll see a better year this year and things will sort out then.” The Bengals stumbled to a 6-9-1 mark in 2016, snapping a five-year playoff streak and giving them a 118-103-3 record during Lewis’ 14-season stint. Amazingly, the team has lost all seven of its postseason games with Lewis at the helm.
  • Even though he has been cleared for everything, Broncos coach Vance Joseph says that the team will be approaching things cautiously with Jamaal Charles in an effort to keep him fresh for the season. That makes James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) wonder if that means Charles has already made the team. For all of his career accomplishments, it has been said that Charles may only have a 50/50 shot of making the final cut.
  • The executive who signed Charles in free agency this year, John Elway, received a promotion when the Broncos awarded him a contract extension Monday, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. The Hall of Fame quarterback is now Denver’s president of football operations/general manager. He had been their executive VP of football operations/GM since 2011.
  • The Ravens had expressed interest in running back Bobby Rainey even before Kenneth Dixon went down with a meniscus injury, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore had been in contact with Rainey throughout the summer, per Hensley, but news of Dixon’s impending operation presumably sped up contract talks and led to his signing Tuesday. Rainey, who had also drawn interest from the Jets earlier this year, joins a backfield that includes Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Dallas Robinson and Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Charles, Chiefs

Some say that Jamaal Charles is not a lock to make the Broncos‘ roster, but the veteran says that he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from left knee surgery and that could be a good sign for him as he tries to lock down his spot this summer.

I am doing everything. I have been cutting the last couple of days with the guys during the offseason workouts. I feel like the way I am cutting that I am back to the normal me, man. It feels good to be moving around again,” Charles told Troy Renck of Denver7. “I have been knowing this the whole offseason (that the knee was fine). Nobody can take nothing away from me except God when my time is up. I am still 30 years old. I still have a lot of special stuff to do.”

Charles has appeared in just eight games over the past two seasons thanks to knee issues. As shown on Roster Resource, the Broncos also have C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, and sixth-round pick De’Angelo Henderson on the RB depth chart. The presence of fullback Andy Janovich may also dictate the makeup of Denver’s RB group.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The Chiefs were always disorganized under John Dorsey but the chaos became more noticeable once Chris Ballard left for the Colts, Albert Breer of The MMQB hears. “It wasn’t dysfunction so much as it was decisions were being made that seemed to come out of nowhere,” one source said. “So that existed, but the people here weren’t aware that ownership was aware of it. … You look back now, how it worked out, and ownership was more aware that it didn’t need to be run that way.”
  • The Chargers‘ revamped offensive line could alleviate pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers, USA Today’s Joe Curley writes. This year, the Bolts used three of their seven draft picks on offensive linemen after allowing the most pass pressures in the league over the past three seasons. The additions of Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, and free agent tackle Russell Okung may allow Rivers more time to work with in the pocket. All three are projected to start on the Chargers’ new-look O-Line.
  • A number of teams are showing interest in free agent linebacker Zach Orr, but the Raiders have not reached out.

Broncos Notes: Charles, Barrett, McKenzie

Although the Broncos could potentially be without Shaquil Barrett into the early part of the regular season, the team does not presently plan to use free agency to help fill its temporary need for more outside pass-rushing help, Vance Joseph said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on Twitter). As of now, the plan is for the team to use the outside linebackers it has to compensate for its No. 3 edge rusher’s absence. Beyond Barrett, Denver has newly signed Kasim Edebali — whom the Saints did not tender as an RFA this offseason. Edebali recorded five sacks in 2015, the same year Barrett registered 5.5 in being the fill-in player for DeMarcus Ware, who was injured around midseason. Second-year UDFA Vontarrius Dora is also an edge option. Pro Football Focus rated Barrett as the Broncos’ No. 2 edge defender last season, ahead of Ware and Shane Ray.

As far as free agency goes, should Denver decide to go that route, former Broncos All-Pro Elvis Dumervil was the latest to come off the market. After today’s 49ers/Dumervil agreement, players like Erik Walden, Trent Cole and Paul Kruger are notable veterans unsigned. Mario Williams remains unattached, but he has not shown plus form in years. Dwight Freeney said he’s discussed a deal with the Falcons. They’re the only team that’s been connected to the 37-year-old UFA this offseason, however.

Here’s more from the Mile High City.

  • Jamaal Charles did some light running back drills Monday, strapping on a Broncos helmet for the first time, Jhabvala reports, adding the 10th-year back is not full-go yet. Joseph maintains the 30-year-old runner is still on track for camp, but part of the goal is to rebuild strength in Charles’ legs. Joseph told media today one of Charles’ quads was “really weak” when he first signed with the Broncos in early May but added the two-time All-Pro is “getting closer.” Charles underwent surgeries on both menisci last year following a 2015 season that a torn ACL cut short.
  • Noting Trevor Siemian has been better on more of the OTA days than Paxton Lynch has, Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes Lynch had the better day today while Siemian struggled. Wolfe called it Lynch’s best day of OTAs thus far.
  • The Broncos used a fifth-round pick on a 5-foot-7 wide receiver who figures to see his primary role come in the return game, but Joseph said Isaiah McKenzie will “obviously” be used in the slot and could be stationed in the backfield at times as well, via Mike Klis of 9News. McKenzie scored six return touchdowns (five on punts) in three seasons at Georgia but also led the Bulldogs in receiving yards as a junior last season. The Broncos made a concerted effort to add players who could help as auxiliary pass-catchers by drafting Carlos Henderson and Jake Butt as well.

West Notes: Broncos, Charles, Riley, Rams

More details are available about Jamaal CharlesBroncos contract, courtesy of 9News’ Mike Klis. The former two-time All-Pro running back signed a one-year deal worth $1MM base value, with the pact including several incentives, as Klis reported Sunday. More specifically, the former Chiefs starter has escalators tied to his performance and the Broncos’, with that portion of the contract totaling $1.25MM if all are achieved.

Should the running back gain 500 all-purpose yards, he will earn $100K. For surpassing the 750-yard barrier, it’s a $300K bump. For going over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, the 30-year-old Charles will see $500K. If Charles manages to turn back the clock and overcome a string of knee issues, Kansas City’s all-time leading rusher stands to earn $1MM in incentives by exceeding 1,400 yards from scrimmage. Charles has finished with 1,300-plus yards from scrimmage five times, but the last came in 2014. Charles hitting these incentives and the Broncos making the playoffs would continually bring bigger bonuses. The 1,000-yard playoffs bonus is $650K, for example.

The Broncos took out waivers on both of Charles’ knees, Klis reports. Each was operated on last year due to problems in each of the back’s menisci. This came after Charles underwent reconstructive knee surgery in 2015.

Here’s the latest from some of the league’s westernmost franchises.

  • Perry Riley received steady playing time despite being picked up during the season, and the Raiders attempted to gauge what it would take to bring back the middle linebacker, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). It sounds like the negotiations progressed well, with numbers being exchanged, but Tafur reports the sides couldn’t agree on a figure that would bring Riley back for a second Raiders year. Reggie McKenzie said earlier this month the door isn’t closed on that prospect, but Tafur said the team will attempt to see what it has on its defensive second level before revisiting a Riley reunion. The former Redskins starter will be going into his age-29 season. The Raiders did not use a high draft pick on a linebacker and have several uncertain cogs vying for time in the middle alongside Bruce Irvin and UFA addition Jelani Jenkins.
  • The Rams‘ cap situation won’t serve as an impediment to what would surely be a landmark extension for Aaron Donald, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). This is interesting because the Rams are just $2.142MM under the cap, according to OverTheCap. Gonzalez offers that a Trumaine Johnson extension would help free up space, with the cornerback tethered to a $16.74MM cap figure, but Les Snead said the team won’t hold extension talks with Johnson until after OTAs conclude. Gonzalez also posits that Donald could look to compromise on a deal, with the Rams agreeing to raise his salary before an extension kicks in after the 2018 season. That said, it would likely have to be a considerable bump for such a sacrifice to be a consideration for Donald’s camp considering how high the two-time All-Pro’s value is presently.
  • The Broncos handed out a $20K guarantee to UDFA safety Jamal Carter, and Klis reports that agreement — split up into a $10K signing bonus and $10K base guarantee — is the most the team has promised a UDFA rookie in years. Carter attended Miami and was viewed as a possible Day 3 pick. The Broncos also gave a $12,500K signing bonus to fellow UDFA safety Orion Stewart (Baylor), which is the largest bonus the team has authorized to a post-draft signee since return man Isaiah Burse received that $12.5K amount in 2014. Denver spent two draft choices on safeties last year, in Justin Simmons and Will Parks, and has Darian Stewart signed long-term. T.J. Ward is entering a contract year. Denver also gave defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett (Pitt) $10K to sign, per Klis.

Details On Jamaal Charles’ Broncos Contract

While the maximum value of running back Jamaal Charlesone-year contract with the Broncos is $3.75MM, the veteran runner could struggle to reach that total, as the as the majority of that figure can only be attained through incentives, Mike Klis of 9News details.Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

As Klis previously reported, Charles is scheduled to earn a veteran minimum base salary of $900K plus a $100K workout bonus, the latter of which is the only guaranteed portion of the contract. However, if Charles makes Denver’s Week 1 roster, he’ll bring in an additional $250K bonus. The 30-year-old can also earn $1.25MM in per-game active roster bonuses, per Klis.

Another $1.25MM is available for Charles through incentives. He’ll earn that entire total if the Broncos make the postseason and he reaches 1,000 all-purpose yards, according to Klis. Charles’ first incentive barrier is 500 all-purpose yards, although it’s unclear what financial figure he’ll reach if he meets that target.

For what it’s worth, Klis recently gave Charles only a 50-50 chance of making the Broncos’ roster. Other running backs on Denver’s depth chart include C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, and De’Angelo Henderson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Pats, Broncos, Texans, Bills

In an interview Wednesday with Charlie Rose of CBS, Gisele Bundchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, said that the five-time Super Bowl winner “had a concussion last year” and “has concussions” that they don’t talk about (Twitter link). If Brady actually has dealt with head injuries and the Patriots have been aware of them, they could face discipline from the NFL. After all, the Pats have never listed Brady’s alleged concussions on the injury report. For its part, the league issued a statement Wednesday (via Doug Kyed of NESN) indicating that it’s now looking into the matter, saying: “There are no records that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms. Today we have been in contact with the NFLPA and will work together to gather more information from the club’s medical staff and Mr. Brady. The health and safety of our players is our foremost priority and we want to ensure that all our players have and continue to receive the best care possible.”

More from the AFC:

  • Running back Jamaal Charles, one of the Broncos’ highest-profile pickups this offseason, only has a 50-50 shot to make their roster, opines Mike Klis of 9News. While the 30-year-old Charles averaged a whopping 5.5 yards per carry with AFC West rival Kansas City from 2008-16, knee injuries limited him to a combined eight games over the past two seasons. Combining Charles’ recent health issues with, as Klis notes, his low-money contract and the presences of fellow runners C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and rookie De’Angelo Henderson, Charles might not play a down for Denver.
  • As expected, the Texans have added ex-Colts executive Jimmy Raye III to their front office. Raye will serve as the Texans’ vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com was among those to report. He’s replacing Brian Gaine, who left Houston for Buffalo earlier this week. Additionally, the club has tabbed Rob Kisiel as its director of pro personnel and Mike Martin as its assistant director of college scouting.
  • The Bills, continuing to reshuffle their front office, have announced the hiring of Lake Dawson as their assistant director of college scouting. Formerly with the Titans and Browns, Dawson joins Gaine, Joe Schoen and Malik Boyd as additions the Bills have made to their front office since naming Brandon Beane their general manager last week. Dawson was a wide receiver with the Chiefs from 1994-97.

Poll: Which Recent Veteran RB Addition Will Make Biggest Impact?

The Broncos giving Jamaal Charles an opportunity represented a key step for the high-profile free agent running backs. After a complicated offseason for just about every big-name back in search of a new home, the 30-plus contingent of this group found new homes in quick succession.

LeGarrette Blount still needs a new employer, but after the Charles/Adrian Peterson/Marshawn Lynch troika agreed to terms, the 30-year-old’s price range will presumably narrow. With Peterson, Lynch and Charles each being attached to accords worth around $3MM AAV for 2017, with various incentives looming as critical deal points, the 30-year-old Blount may follow suit soon now that the market has essentially been set.

But it’s certainly going to be a change of pace for each of the trio that’s already signed. Each will transition from being his team’s clear-cut No. 1 running back to a cog in backfields that aren’t as certain to be geared around these players.

The Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs received top-of-the-line production from these three dynamos during the first half of this decade, but the Saints, Raiders and Broncos, respectively, will expect less of them in 2017. How much less is the key question.

Lynch appears to have the clearest road to a steady role, with Oakland prioritizing the 31-year-old recently unretired back instead of diverting resources to a younger ball-carrier in a loaded draft. He’s also going to have a chance to run behind a high-end Raiders offensive front. But Beast Mode has not played a full season since 2014 and will be more than 18 months removed from his last NFL game by the time he suits up in Week 1.

Oakland also has multiple change-of-pace backs in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard that boasted per-carry averages well north of 5.0 as rookies. Lynch steamrolled his way to four Pro Bowls in Seattle and averaged 4.7 yards per tote in 2014 but struggled a year later to a 3.8-per-handoff average. While the Seahawks’ embattled offensive line can be singled out as a key reason for this production dip for Lynch, Thomas Rawls (5.6 ypc in ’15) looked better by comparison in the pair’s lone season together. The Raiders will deploy a much better array of blockers than did the ’15 Seahawks, but by eschewing younger investments at this young man’s position this offseason, they’re still gambling Lynch can operate at close to his Seahawks form. The Raiders are pleased by Lynch’s condition thus far, at least.

Peterson figures to team with Mark Ingram in New Orleans, but with Ingram being used frequently in the Saints’ passing game the past two seasons, the former Vikings All-Pro’s role will be interesting to observe. Peterson has functioned best as a pure runner since returning from his ACL tear in 2012. While the 32-year-old UFA addition might still be a better ground operator than Ingram when healthy, he struggled behind a porous Vikes offensive line in 2016. Averaging a ghastly 1.9 yards per carry during a season that saw Peterson tear his meniscus, the future Hall of Famer will have to prove he can make another comeback but do so at an age where most running backs are out of the game.

That said, Peterson offered maybe the greatest comeback season for a skill-position player in memory in compiling that 2,097-yard slate five years ago. He then won the 2015 rushing title after the near-season-long 2014 suspension. Drew Brees‘ explosive offense, which ranked No. 1 last season, will help divert defenses from concentrating on stopping Peterson the way Minnesota opponents could for years. Alvin Kamara‘s potential place in this backfield could be a big factor as well, but the Tennessee rookie may carve into the team’s extensive passing-down work instead of exclusively cutting into Peterson’s handoff count.

Charles may bring the highest variance of the acclaimed trio. The Chiefs’ all-time rushing leader will easily be the most accomplished running back on the Broncos’ roster, but he’s obviously missed extensive time the past two years due to knee injuries and is a threat to not make it back at all. Mike Klis of 9News reported Charles was “90 percent” healthy on his signing day. As a result, the NFL’s all-time yards-per-carry king received the smallest financial commitment, at $1MM base value, comparatively. However, at 30 — and with nearly 1,000 fewer career carries (1,332) than Peterson (2,418) and Lynch (2,144) — Charles is the youngest of the three and has a skill set his Bronco mates don’t.

He of a 70-catch season in 2013, the two-time first-team All-Pro has a clear avenue toward the Broncos’ passing-down responsibilities — with the obvious health caveat representing the only barrier. C.J. Anderson is also coming off a severe knee injury. The fifth-year player remains expected to start, but the between-the-tackles grinder hasn’t shown himself to be the type of back Charles has when healthy. The Broncos don’t have an upper-echelon offensive line, but Charles hasn’t been afforded that luxury much in his career and has never finished a season averaging fewer than 5.0 yards per rush. While he surmounted a 2011 ACL tear to re-emerge with dominant 2012 and ’13 campaigns, the veteran now has to do that at an older age and with a more extensive medical history.

There are a lot of moving parts to these stalwarts’ situations, but each certainly has upside. Who do you think will make the biggest impact for his new team this season? Will Charles’ open-field skills make him a bigger weapon than his run-centric peers? Or will Lynch’s comeback tour succeed behind an offensive line featuring three Pro Bowlers? Will Peterson capitalize on Brees and Co.’s setup and prove everyone wrong again? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section about what should be an interesting year for the running back position.

AFC Notes: Browns, Brantley, Charles

The Browns are currently rostering four quarterbacks in Cody Kessler, Brock OsweilerDeShone Kizer, and Kevin Hogan. Despite the depth, the grouping doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, as the four signal-callers have combined for 49 career games. Despite the inexperience, the front office doesn’t anticipate adding a veteran quarterback to their roster.

“That would surprise me,” head of football operations Sashi Brown said on WKNR 850 AM (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “I’ll never say never, and we’re always out there looking for what’s available to us. But very few transactions happen around the league, maybe one or two a year that would affect the quarterback position, particularly a starting-caliber quarterback. So I would anticipate and feel really comfortable about the four guys we have going into the season.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the AFC…

  • While appearing on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, Brown explained the logic that went behind the Browns selection of Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley in the sixth round. “We’ll see what the prosecutor’s office does here, but that was another thing,” Brown said (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). “There was no warrant issued for his arrest. There was an allegation of what happened. So we did our diligence.” Brantley is accused of punching a woman back in April.
  • Brown also indicated that he wasn’t rushing to make a Brantley decision before the legal process plays itself out. “We don’t want to prematurely rush to a judgment or presume that we have all the facts, so [we’ll] wait to let the process play out and do as much work on it as we can and then make a decision,” Brown said. “With these legal processes, sometimes they take longer than anticipated. But we do anticipate in the next several weeks that some resolution will come.”
  • New Broncos running back Jamaal Charles recently appeared on the “Unmatched Sports with Cal Jones” podcast, and he discussed the Chiefs decision to cut bait on him and his $3.75MM contract. “I thought maybe they would give me a grace period. But I haven’t performed the last two years,” Charles said (via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “At the same time, I know it was about business. I think it would have been cool if they came and told me about a pay cut because I think I would’ve taken that pay cut, because I think I owed it to them for allowing me to be on the team. But I felt like when I got that call, it was just like, man, it was just OK, man. If it can happen to Peyton Manning it can happen to anybody.” Charles left Kansas City as the organization’s all-time leader in rushing yards.

Extra Points: Charles, Broncos, Lions

Jamaal Charles says he doesn’t know what his role will be with the Broncos, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.

They just told me to come in and compete,” Charles said. “I really don’t know until the game comes. I’m just happy to be on the team.”

Charles, who signed a one-year deal with a base value of $1MM on Tuesday, did allude that he’ll likely start out handling passing-down work in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy‘s scheme. Denver traded away fellow running back Kapri Bibbs during the draft, so Charles will join a backfield that includes C.J. Anderson, Devontae BookerJuwan Thompson, and sixth-round pick DeAngelo Henderson.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • With the draft in the rear view mirror, Dave Birkett of the Free Press looked at five Lions players who could be on the hot seat. The list starts with running back Ameer Abdullah thanks to his fumbling and health issues. Wide receiver Marvin Jones is also on notice from Birkett’s view after his production fell off after the first month of the 2016 season. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah, and coach Jim Caldwell round out the list.
  • Veteran guard Jahri Evansdeal with the Packers is for one year and $2.25MM, tweets Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Evans, 33, will earn a $1.15MM base salary, a $200K signing bonus, $800K in per-game roster bonuses, a $100K workout bonuses, and can bring in an additional $250K via incentives. Green Bay added only one offensive lineman — sixth-rounder Kofi Amichia — in the draft, so Evans looks like the favorite to start at right guard in 2017 (though he’ll likely face competition from Don Barclay and/or Kyle Murphy).

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.