Jaguars Sign Veteran Free Agent RB Jamaal Charles
The Jacksonville Jaguars are facing a bit of an injury crisis in the backfield. Starting running back Leonard Fournette is set to be sidelined indefinitely with a nagging right hamstring injury, while his backup, T.J. Yeldon is playing through a lingering ankle problem of his own. The team’s No. 3 back, Corey Grant, was just placed on injured reserve thanks to a Lisfranc injury in his left foot.
With so many injury woes, the Jaguars hit the free agency wire on Tuesday. The team announced that it has signed veteran running back Jamaal Charles to a one-year deal. Jacksonville additionally promoted rookie runner Brandon Wilds from the practice squad.
Charlies, 31, worked out for the team on Tuesday morning before ultimately putting pen to paper on a contract. The veteran said that he had been waiting for the right opportunity to sign a deal with a legitimate Super Bowl contender when the Jaguars came calling.
Charles said, “I’ve been trying to do all my condition work, just trying to stay in shape just in case I got anybody to call. The reason why I wanted to come here, really, was because I wanted a potential shot at a Super Bowl. That’s why I still kept my options open. I really want to win a championship.”
Yeldon is set to remain as Jacksonville’s No. 1 with Fournette sidelined, but Charles should get ample opportunity in support. He will likely be active and will get his first shot to contribute this coming Sunday when the Jaguars take on the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington.
Charles added, “I have a lot left in the tank and I’ve got to prove a lot. Opportunities don’t come around like this all the time.”
Charles spent the first 9 seasons of his pro career with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he emerged as one of the best all-around players in the game. The former Texas Longhorn’s most prolific campaign arguably came back in 2012 when he rushed for a career-high 1,509 yards with 5 touchdowns. He scored 12 touchdowns and amassed nearly 1,300 yards rushing the following year.
Kansas City ultimately decided to move on from Charles after a couple of injury-riddled seasons in 2015 and 2016. Charles played in just 8 total games in those 2 seasons combined. He latched on last season with the AFC West rival Denver Broncos, for whom he appeared in 14 games. He did not have a big role, however, as he carried the ball just 69 times for 296 yards with 1 touchdown on the campaign. He was a healthy inactive for the Broncos’ last 2 games of the season.
Charles certainly has big expectations now that he’s joining the Jaguars, who fell to 3-2 with a loss to Charles’ former team, the Chiefs, in Week 5. He said, “In my mind, I want to come here and make my own history. I want to start a new history. Everybody says, ‘he’s old’ right now, but I want to start something new. I want to do something special for the Jaguars. I hope we can go all the way.”
Charles is still the all-time leading rusher in the history of the Chiefs, for whom he amassed a total of 7,260 yards on the ground. He also recorded at least 40 receptions in 4 separate seasons for Kansas City.
Charles has torn both of his ACLs during his pro career, the most recent of which was a tear of his right ACL during the 2015 season. He said throughout last season that he is still able to contribute despite his lengthy injury history, but he never got much of a chance with the Broncos. Charles has averaged 5.4 yards per attempt over the course of his career.
Through 5 games the Jaguars have amassed 555 rushing yards as a team, which ranks 13th in the league. Their average of 4.5 yards per carry is the 10th-best mark in the NFL. Quarterback Blake Bortles struggled mightily in Kansas City, and it’s clear that the Jags are going to have to establish a consistent rushing attack if they are to capitalize on their Super Bowl aspirations. Fournette, the team’s first-round pick back in 2017, gained 71 yards on 20 carries across 2 games this season before going down injured.
Yeldon had a productive day last Sunday in the loss. The former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards while adding another 69 yards across 8 catches with a receiving touchdown. He was one of the lone bright spots for an offense that scored just 14 points in a 30-14 defeat, however. Yeldon has been limited in practice for the last couple of weeks with the aforementioned ankle problem.
Jacksonville is currently tied with the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South, though the Titans currently hold the tiebreaker due to their 9-6 victory over the Jaguars last month. The Houston Texans are lurking at 2-3, however, while the Indianapolis Colts are bringing up the year at 1-4 so far.
The Jaguars will face a huge test against the Texans in 2 weeks after facing the Cowboys in Week 6. Jacksonville will also face tough tests against the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers along with road dates in Houston and Tennessee before the season ends.
As of this writing, the Jaguars are listed at +1400 to win Super Bowl LIII. The team fell just short of appearing in the big game this past year after losing in the AFC Championship Game at the hands of the New England Patriots.
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