The Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason hasn’t featured a ton of splash moves but rather a calculated approach by general manager Brett Veach that has led to the return of 20 of 22 starters from last season’s Super Bowl-winning roster. Late Friday, the Chiefs dipped into the free agent pool to scoop up a recently released first-round defensive talent.
According to Yahoo Sports senior NFL reporter Terez Paylor, the defending champions have agreed to a 1-year deal with former Dallas Cowboys DL Taco Charlton. The contract does not include any guaranteed money and is worth $825K over one season, potentially allowing Charlton to test the free agent market following the 2020 season.
The Chiefs have agreed to a 1-year deal with DL Taco Charlton, a source tells Yahoo Sports.
— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 2, 2020
The 25-year-old, who was selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Michigan, was waived by Dallas last September after being inactive for the team’s first two games. Charlton was quickly claimed by the Miami Dolphins where he spent the remainder of the season, accumulating 21 total tackles, a team-leading 5.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 10 games (5 starts).
New #Chiefs Signing
ED Taco Charlton
• 28th Overall Pick in the 2017 Draft
• 2017: 61.3
• 2018: 64.3
• 2019: 51.7
• 57 Pressures and 9 Sacks in 691 Pass-Rushing Snaps
— PFF KC Chiefs (@PFF_Chiefs) May 2, 2020
Miami waived the fourth-year defensive end on Thursday, electing to forgo a decision on Charlton’s $1.83 million fifth-year option. As of Friday afternoon, Charlton had cleared waivers and was free to sign with any team at a lower cost.
According to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, “The writing was on the wall for Charlton when he was a healthy inactive for the Dolphins’ last two games and three of their final four games of the 2019 season.”
Taco Reunited with College Teammate Frank Clark
Charlton now joins a Kansas City defensive front featuring a pair of Pro Bowlers in DT Chris Jones and former college teammate DE Frank Clark, consecutive third-round picks in DT Derrick Nnadi and DT Khalen Saunders and a pair of standout undrafted free agents in DT Mike Pennel and DE Alex Okafor.
Taco Charlton: Chiefs get a big athletic end with length (slightly smaller than Tanoh) who played with Frank Clark at Michigan and was a first round pick in 2017. Still only 25 but became a healthy scratch in both Dallas and Miami.
— Arrowhead Addict (@ArrowheadAddict) May 2, 2020
On April 9, the 6-foot-six-inch, 270-pound defensive end retweeted an on-field workout video showing off his footwork and athleticism, with the caption, “Foot on the gas.”
Foot on the gas. https://t.co/dlyITkaLf0
— Taco Charlton (@TheSupremeTaco) April 12, 2020
— Coach Brandon Jordan (@CoachBTJordan) April 9, 2020
Personality Concerns Forced Taco’s Exit
While scheme fit and a pending contract option may have played a role in Charlton’s departure from the Dolphins, his presence in the locker room may have pushed the decision over the top. Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero noted in his Thursday column that, “Club sources complained Charlton’s attitude was not what the Dolphins had hoped.”
Interestingly enough, the Miami front office added two mid-level defensive ends in free agency for head coach Brian Flores to utilize in 2020, including former Chiefs DE Emmanuel Ogbah on a two-year, $15 million deal.
During Charlton’s stint in Dallas, the tune around the uber-talented edge defender was much the same. While he missed four of the Cowboys’ final six contests in 2018 while fighting through ankle and shoulder injuries, the situation was not great behind the scenes.
Inconsistent production and development on the field — only 4.0 sacks in 27 games across two seasons — was only part of the building frustration. After Charlton was deemed a healthy scratch for the second straight game to open the 2019 season, he reportedly “tweeted and deleted ‘free me’ with an eyes emoji.”
The wish was ultimately granted, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones going as far as to question Charlton’s motivation shortly after the breakup.
Now the former first-round pick has a third opportunity to put everything together, just in time to boost his open market value for 2021. As for the Chiefs, the move offers considerable upside with minimal risk involved.