Should the Kansas City Chiefs bring back Jerick McKinnon?
By Jacob Milham
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon was a late acquisition by the team ahead of the 2022 season. My gut reaction was the Chiefs didn’t really need McKinnon back, but wanted him. His impact during the 2021 postseason was notable, but he hardly made his case for RB1 in Kansas City. He was 30 years old with two major knee injuries and the Chiefs had plenty of other options in the backfield.
That’s how it seemed last summer, but here we are now. Chiefs fans want McKinnon back, and there’s a role and need for the veteran to return in 2023.
McKinnon remains unsigned, but that may not be for a lack of suitors. After all, he was the best receiving back in the NFL last season. His 512 receiving yards were a career high, and his 9.1 yards per reception and nine touchdowns led all running backs with at least 40 targets. The savvy veteran fits well into the Andy Reid offense, and McKinnon became one of the most trusted target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The receiving numbers and Super Bowl ring make McKinnon an intriguing target among other teams. But the Chiefs could probably replicate that with a younger back. There’s something outside of playmaking that McKinnon brings to Kansas City that few others could: consistent pass blocking.
Should the Chiefs re-sign RB Jerick McKinnon?
“That’s probably one of the most underrated deals that people (don’t) think about when they’ve mentioned his name,” said former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. “I’ve said this before: You want the best football players who happen to be the best running backs. He brings a lot to the table. He does a great job of working with the offensive line.”
There are plenty of clips where McKinnon is in the exact right place at the exact right time. When the Chiefs offensive front struggled, McKinnon’s chips and late blocks saved plenty of sacks in 2022.
The willingness to block, a sense of where the pressure is coming from, and chemistry with Mahomes is not something that can be taught. It’s learned through practice and experience. McKinnon may not be the bell cow back for the Chiefs, but he certainly has a role in which he can excel and elevate the Chiefs’ passing offense once again.
It makes sense on the field, but off the field is the hardest to predict. Chiefs fans watching The Franchise YouTube series know how much the players and coaches appreciated McKinnon last season. But with some new offensive coaches this year, will they want McKinnon back? Plus, is there another team willing to pay McKinnon more for his services? The Chiefs have only paid him $2.1 million over the past two seasons. He’s turning 31 before the 2023 season, which makes any big-money, one-year deal worth considering. But that’s only a factor if McKinnon values a final payday over another possible championship with Kansas City. He has made $22.2 million in his career so far, according to Spotrac. That’s more than many NFL running backs, which could make the financials not that important to McKinnon.
After another successful season in a depth role, the Chiefs should prioritize bringing McKinnon back because the positives outweigh the negatives, there’s a clear positional need, and the financials make too much sense. If McKinnon is willing to come back, Kansas City should welcome him with open arms.