The K.C. Chiefs decided to make a minor signing to the roster on Friday shortly before the 2021 NFL Draft got underway once again for the second and third round with the addition of free agent running back Jerick McKinnon. In doing so, the team has made an under-the-radar ideal addition to the offensive backfield that could reap solid dividends in ’21.
Peter Schrager reported the signing first, although terms were not yet known as of press time.
McKinnon, who is just days away from turning 29, has been passed over so far in free agency, but the Chiefs are going to appreciate his well-rounded skill set as a contributor who can help in a number of ways on both special teams and offense.
Remember this, McKinnon was a free agent prize for the San Francisco 49ers only a few years ago after they signed him to a shocking deal of four years and $30 million. Unfortunately for McKinnon, an ACL tear in his first year in the Bay Area not only ruined his first year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but the effects of that injury and subsequent knee issues took him out for the ’19 campaign as well—the year the Niners met the Chiefs in the Super Bowl..
Jerrick McKinnon is an underrated addition for the Chiefs backfield.
By the time McKinnon was able to return last season, a year in which he played all 16 games, the Niners had found other answers in the backfield like Raheem Mostert. Even the speedy Matt Breida was having a hard time finding reps. McKinnon did contribute in every game, but he only had 81 carries for 319 yards and 5 scores.
But here’s the thing: McKinnon should be even healthier now that he’s found his footing after being gone for so long, and it only takes a look at Juan Thornhill of the Chiefs to realize how long it takes a player to return back to form after the physical and mental demands of such long rehabilitation. McKinnon is an elusive back who is also a surprising blocker with hands to be a threat out of the backfield. He’s a jack of all trades with something to prove, and now the Chiefs have brought him into the mix.
At this point, Darrel Williams is the obvious tandem back behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, so the top of the depth chart shouldn’t be affected by this move too much, but McKinnon could certainly provide security for any injury issues overall and competition for even Williams is on the table. As for Darwin Thompson, he’s going to face an uphill climb to find more developmental reps, but he’s fought off other competitors in years past, to his credit.