The Kansas City Chiefs swung and missed on a handful of notable free agents on offense this offseason, including Trent Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Josh Reynolds. Most recently, the trend continued at the running back position when former Cincinnati Bengals standout Giovani Bernard elected to sign with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite interest from the runner-up Chiefs.
On Friday, April 30, Kansas City instead landed another dual-threat playmaker on the open market.
As first reported by Peter Schrager of Fox Sports and Good Morning Football and later confirmed by the team on Twitter, the Chiefs have signed free agent running back Jerick McKinnon to a one-year contract. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the deal is for the veteran salary benefit of just over $1 million, however, only $850K will count against the Chiefs’ salary cap.
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McKinnon Returned Last Season After a Torn ACL in 2018
McKinnon, who will turn 29 years old on Monday, May 3, most recently played for the San Francisco 49ers last season following a two-year absence from a torn ACL suffered in September 2018 just prior to the regular season. A rehab setback in August 2019 later resulted in another knee surgery and stint on the season-ending injured reserve list.
In 2020, McKinnon managed his way through a full 16-game slate with four starts), posting 319 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries while chipping in 33 receptions for 253 yards and one score through the air on a last-place Niners club.
The Georgia Southern product originally entered the league as a third-round draft pick (No. 96 overall) of the Minnesota Vikings in 2014. Through his first four seasons as a pro, McKinnon was similarly used in a rotational and situational capacity behind the likes of Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata, Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook. He posted 2,902 yards and 12 touchdowns (seven rushing) from scrimmage in Minnesota.
McKinnon will now compete for a spot in a Chiefs running back corps headlined by 2020 first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well as Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Elijah McGuire and Derrick Gore.
Breakout Candidate Byron Pringle Officially Signs New Deal
With former No. 2 wideout Sammy Watkins now in Baltimore, former undrafted receiver Byron Pringle is expected to be among the leading candidates to see an uptick in snaps in 2021. On Friday, the 27-year-old officially signed his restricted free agent tender to remain with the Chiefs next season, according to the team.
Pringle was first extended the original-round tender offer back on March 17, the first day of NFL free agency. Signing it ensures the Kansas State product will take home a guaranteed $2.1 million minimum salary this coming season.
Now entering his third year in Kansas City, the 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has compiled 25 catches for 330 yards and a pair of touchdowns over his first two years, including his first three career starts last season. During the first of two predraft press conferences this spring, general manager Brett Veach singled out Pringle as a player the team is counting on in 2021.
“I think we’re certainly blessed to have Tyreek Hill and expecting big things out of Mecole Hardman this year and I think we’re all excited about the development of Byron Pringle,” Veach told reporters on March 1. “So, we feel really good about those three players.”
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!