The Kansas City Chiefs are tendering a third player on their roster, this time in the offensive backfield.
The Chiefs are tendering exclusive rights free agent running back Derrick Gore, according to Herbie Teope.
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Gore becomes the fourth Chiefs free agent of any fashion to be retained by the team since the beginning of the offseason. During the weekend before the legal tampering period began, Kansas City also tendered exclusive rights free agent cornerback Deandre Baker, per Teope. Then on Day 1 of the legal tampering period on Monday, March 14, the Chiefs re-signed fullback Michael Burton to a one-year deal. according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Late in the evening on March 15, Kansas City also tendered exclusive rights free agent tight end Jody Fortson, per Teope.
The lone signing outside the organization that the Chiefs have made through March 15 was former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid, who they inked a three-year, $31 million deal on March 14, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Gore: From Undrafted to Rotational Piece in KC
Coming out of Louisiana-Monroe as an undrafted free agent in 2019, Gore played on the Los Angeles Chargers practice squad along with the Washington Commanders’ before joining Kansas City in February of 2021, per the team’s website.
After a rough outing during the 2021 preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers in which Gore totaled eight yards (six rushing, two receiving), the second-year back took the reins of the backfield for the remainder of the preseason. In Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, Gore ran the ball eight times for 54 yards — which led the team. Then in the preseason finale against the Minnesota Vikings, Gore had 106 total yards (26 rushing, 80 receiving) and one receiving touchdown. He led all Chiefs pass-catchers in receiving yards that game.
Gore’s play last summer was good enough to make Kansas City’s practice squad come September. He remained there until the Chiefs needed more running back depth on the active roster in wake of Clyde Edwards-Helaire landing on injured reserve in October. Gore then became a consistent piece of Kansas City’s backfield from thereon after proving to be a valuable asset during CEH’s absence.
In 11 games played during the 2021 regular season, Gore accumulated 51 rushing attempts for 256 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught eight passes on nine targets for 105 yards, per Pro Football Reference.
Fate of Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon
With Gore being tendered, the assumption is that he will be in a Chiefs uniform for the 2022 season as another team will likely not sign him, otherwise they will have to give a draft pick to Kansas City. So, that means the only running backs the Chiefs have locked up for the 2022 season are Gore and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Both Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon are unrestricted free agents. NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported that Williams and Kansas City tried to strike a deal ahead of the legal tampering period, but were unsuccessful. So, Williams, 26, will test the market and see what other kinds of offers he can gather.
It will be interesting to see what happens with McKinnon. At age 29, McKinnon became the most explosive running back the Chiefs had down the stretch of the 2021 season. Based on his age and injury history he might not garner a very large market in free agency, which could work in the Chiefs’ favor. That could allow them to sign McKinnon to a small deal and utilize him even more moving forward, especially if Williams signs with another team.