Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s second season in the NFL was underwhelming.
After a rookie season in which he totaled 1,100 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns, Edwards-Helaire’s sophomore campaign didn’t build on his rookie production. He totaled 646 and six touchdowns during the 2021 season, according to Pro Football Reference.
Granted, Edwards-Helaire played in only 10 games this season, which is why his numbers would naturally be less when compared to his stats produced in 13 games during his rookie season. But fewer games played in 2021 is more of a concern and less of a supporting point for the second-year back who has now missed 12 games in his first two seasons (which includes a missed playoff game in each of his first two seasons).
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Edwards-Helaire took to Instagram to address his feelings regarding the 2021 season, and also what he took away from the season.
“Something are hard to do. From a stomach surgery in the last off-season, to multiple injuries during the season. I hated every second I couldn’t be on the field with my dawgs! Through it all! Countless lessons learned, knowledge gained beyond me , put me in a head space where I felt I needed to be,” Edwards-Helaire wrote on February 16. “With all the knowledge in the world, it doesn’t take a genius to know there are no do overs.. We know what we all want in life .. I just want to WIN! and be the best at what I do! LET’S GLYDE CHIEFSKINGDOM”
Edwards-Helaire Entering Contract Year
The 2022 season will be a very important season for Edwards-Helaire. That’s because he will be entering the final year of his rookie deal with Kansas City.
If he continues to be plagued by injuries and is outperformed by his colleagues in the Chiefs’ backfield, then 2022 may be Edwards-Helaire’s last season in Kansas City after being the 32nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, a bounce-back effort by Edwards-Helaire next season could put him in line to have the fifth-year option of his contract exercised by the Chiefs.
Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon are pending free agents, which means Kansas City may only retain Edwards-Helaire and Derick Gore from its 2021 backfield for the 2022 season. However, that also opens the opportunity for the Chiefs to draft Edwards-Helaire’s potential successor this offseason.
Instead of spending a high draft pick on the running back position like they did with Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs could instead draft one in the middle rounds, that way that player can push CEH while having very little pressure put on them.
The best-case scenario is that CEH steps up and produces when it matters most. The worst-case scenario is Edwards-Helaire folds under pressure, and the Chiefs search from within or around the league to find another primary running back in 2023.
Chiefs’ Free Agent/Cap Situation for 2022 Offseason
The Chiefs have 23 players that are pending unrestricted free agents. Among them is safety Tyrann Mathieu, left tackle Orlando Brown, wide receiver Byron Pringle, cornerback Charvarius Ward, and defensive end Melvin Ingram.
Kansas City has an estimated $6 million in available cap space as of January 30, according to Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap. However, there’s a lot of contract flexibility that could drastically increase the Chiefs’ spending money this offseason.
A new page on the OverTheCap website shows the “restructure potential” for each NFL team. The page shows what each team’s cap space would look like for the 2022 season if they restructured all their current contracts by converting “scheduled payments such as base salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses that are prorated equally across the length of the contract, over a maximum of five years,” per the website.
For Kansas City, if they were to do “simple restructures,” they would have $58.1 million in available cap space. If they were to do “maximum restructures,” they would have $94.7 million in available cap space.
Those numbers don’t exemplify how much money the team will actually free up this offseason to spend. However, it tells us the kind of flexibility the Chiefs have with their current player contracts to move around money, bring in/retain players, and continue to compete for championships moving forward.