One of the tougher decisions the Kansas City Chiefs will have to make this offseason is whether they will let pending free agent running back Jerick McKinnon walk during free agency or retain him.
Because McKinnon could be offered more money from another NFL team, one Chiefs analyst believes McKinnon could be spending his final days in Kansas City.
“Jerick McKinnon’s market will certainly be interesting to monitor,” Grant Tuttle of Arrowhead Addict wrote. “While he is certainly not a youngster, he has some explosive ability and shined in Kansas City as a receiving back. It seems as though the Chiefs would like to spend limited amounts on the running back position with Isiah Pacheco emerging as their top option. It seems as though someone may be willing to offer McKinnon more than what the Chiefs care to spend. However, if a deal is closer to its floor than to its ceiling, the Chiefs will definitely be in the mix and hold interest in bringing him back.”
McKinnon a Top NFL Receiving Back in 2022
After joining the Chiefs on a one-year deal in 2021, McKinnon re-signed with Kansas City on a one-year deal again in 2022 after a strong playoff run by the veteran back.
Though McKinnon, 30, had a rather quiet start to the 2022-2023 regular season, he rounded into form during the second half of the season by way of the passing game.
From Weeks 13-18, McKinnon caught a total of 8 touchdown passes. In Week 17, he set an NFL record for most consecutive games with a receiving touchdown by a running back (5) and increased that streak to 6 games in Week 18. McKinnon’s nine receiving touchdowns during the regular season tied the NFL record for most by a running back, and he is the first back since Marshall Faulk (2001) to reach that mark, according to Pro Football Talk.
McKinnon displayed a level of explosiveness from a running back in the passing game that we haven’t seen in decades, which is a credit to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes for utilizing McKinnon’s best asset: his hands.
Should Chiefs Let McKinnon Walk in Free Agency?
Jerick McKinnon is one of two running backs that are pending free agents in Kansas City’s backfield, with the other being Ronald Jones II. That means Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are the only two backs Kansas City has under contract for the 2023 season.
Due to the inconsistencies from Edwards-Helaire, it would make sense for the Chiefs to try to retain McKinnon, who can provide a change of pace when Pacheco is off the field. But the defending Super Bowl champions should only retain McKinnon for the right price.
In 2022, Kansas City signed McKinnon to a one-year, $1.2 million contract. That ended up being a value for the Chiefs, who got a high level of production from McKinnon. Because he’s coming off of a highly-productive season, it would be fair for the Chiefs to offer McKinnon another one-year deal with a bit more cash than his last deal. However, the deal should not exceed $5 million due to McKinnon technically being the RB2 on the roster.