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How the Chiefs should handle the running back position this offseason

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By: Maurice Elston

Photo by Luke Hales/Getty Images

Kansas City needs a player who can complement Isiah Pacheco in the backfield

As the Kansas City Chiefs meticulously evaluate their roster over the offseason, one glaring need emerges: bolstering their running back corps with a dynamic playmaker to complement the talents of third-year player Isaiah Pacheco.

While the Chiefs’ offense has been renowned for an explosive aerial assault orchestrated by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it has often lacked the balance provided by a consistent ground game. Nonetheless, Pacheco has exhibited a hard-nosed running style that gives him the ability to grind out the tough yards. He does, however, need a backfield partner who can deliver big plays in a complementary style to reduce some of the pressure on him.

In the modern NFL, such a dual-threat backfield is a key to sustained success. Teams need running backs who can churn out tough yards between the tackles — along with those who pose a threat in the passing game through screens, checkdowns or downfield routes.

With the addition of such a playmaking running back, Kansas City could add another dimension to its offense — one that would force defenses to respect the ground game and also create more opportunities for Mahomes.

Fortunately, the 2024 draft class presents several intriguing prospects who fit this bill. Our Rocky Magaña wrote about some that the Chiefs may be watching when running backs go through their paces at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis. Shifty, elusive runners who can evade defenders in the open field — and versatile pass-catchers who can excel in the short passing game — should be available on Day 2 and Day 3, allowing Kansas City to fortify its backfield.

But before the draft, we should expect general manager Brett Veach to explore adding a veteran presence to the running back room — because given his age and potential decline, veteran Jerick McKinnon may have reached the end of his Kansas City tenure.

The Chiefs don’t necessarily need to pursue big-name free agents like Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs or Saquon Barkley. Given Pacheco’s injury history, however, they may seek a reliable option capable of shouldering the workload if he is unavailable. Veterans like Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, Gus Edwards, and D’Onta Foreman could be under consideration for that role.

While there’s a possibility that former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire could return on a one-year, team-friendly deal, the Chiefs might allow him to first explore the market. And just like last season, there is always the chance that if he is needed, McKinnon could return to the team closer to training camp.

The bottom line

The Chiefs must address their running back situation this offseason, utilizing both free agency and the draft. While a return of Edwards-Helaire on favorable terms isn’t out of the question, there’s a pool of available talent ready to immediately step in and contribute.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride