There is little doubt about who will get the majority of carries for the Kansas City Chiefs next season after Jamaal Charles burst onto the scene. But there is also little doubt that he needs a viable backup to give him a breather. Does Scott Pioli look for this player in the draft, free agency or both? Josh Looney at KCChiefs.com takes a look at the crop of unrestricted free agents that the Chiefs could target.
Kevin Faulk (5-8, 202; age: 33) – Faulk likely jumps off the page at Chiefs fans solely from his time spent in New England and Scott Pioli’s familiarity with the free agent. Even though he’s a bit older, an asset to Faulk is that he’s spent virtually his entire career (1999-present) as a complimentary back, or part of a running back by committee system.
Over the past two years, Faulk has excelled in the role that the Patriots have asked him to play. In 2008 Faulk averaged 6.1 yards per carry (83 attempts) and last year he averaged 5.4 yards per carry (62 attempts). Faulk is also a nice back on third downs, owning over 400 career receptions (he had 58 in 2008 and 37 in 2009).
Faulk isn’t a “big back,” which seems to be catching the eyes of most Chiefs fans this offseason, but he certainly has the history of excelling as a reserve. He finished second on the Patriots rushing in 2009 and third in receptions. It was another productive year for Faulk in the Northeast.
Chris Brown (6-2, 235; age: 28) – Brown was the feature back for about two seasons in Tennessee, pre-dating Chris Johnson, and for about a week last year with Houston. If you’re looking for a big runner with experience, who’s not a fullback, Brown might be right up your alley.
Outside of his stints as a feature back, Brown has been parts of teams that have used committees to run the football. He missed all of the 2008 season with an injured back, but proved healthy in 2009 once more playing in 14 games (four starts) for the Texans.
Reports out of Houston indicate that the Texans won’t make a play at re-signing Brown.
Looney touches on something that I think is very important. A lot of Chiefs fans are sold on the idea that Charles’ backup needs to be a “big back”. It doesn’t matter what size the player is, just as long as he gets the job done.
Of the backs mentioned, Faulk seems to be the best fit. He is experienced, productive and maybe most importantly hasn’t lost a fumble since 2006. The fact that he struggled with ball control earlier in his career but fixed the problem could be a huge asset to the Chiefs as they work with Charles to help him continue to improve his fumbling issues.
Willie Parker and Chester Taylor are nice names, but I have a feeling they are going to be looking for a lot more than the 5-6 touches a game the Chiefs will be able to offer them.