The Kansas City Chiefs officially retained a part of their offensive backfield, as second-year running back Derrick Gore signed his exclusive rights free agent tender on April 7, according to the NFL’s personnel notice.
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Kansas City had tendered Gore back on March 16, per the Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope, which meant that if a signed Gore they would have had to give the Chiefs a seventh-round draft pick. No team seemingly wanted to forfeit draft capital in exchange for signing Gore, so he ends up back in Kansas City.
Now that Gore, 27, is officially staying in Kansas City, the Chiefs backfield now consists of Gore, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ronald Jones, and Brenden Knox. With the draft just around the corner and plenty of veterans still available at the position in free agency, it would make sense for the Chiefs to add at least one more player to the running back room before training camp starts in July.
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.
The Fate of Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon
Both Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon, the former being with the Chiefs for the past four seasons and the latter for the 2021 season, 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, is continuing to test the market to see what other kinds of offers he can gather.
Williams had a visit with the Arizona Cardinals on April 4 but didn’t come away from that visit with a deal.
At age 29, McKinnon became the most explosive running back the Chiefs had down the stretch of the 2021 season. He has not garnered a strong market since becoming a free agent, presumably because of his age and injury history, which could work in Kansas City’s favor if they want to bring him back.
If the Chiefs do not fill out their backfield via the draft, look for someone like McKinnon to be a viable option to re-sign over the summer.