"Excited to have Jamaal Charles join the Broncos," general manager John Elway tweeted Tuesday afternoon upon signing Charles to a one-year, incentive-laden deal. "A great addition to our backfield, and we're thrilled we won't have to play against him!"
While it may be strange seeing him in navy and gold, Charles said he already feels right at home.
"I always wanted to play with Denver," Charles said. "Growing up, John Elway was my favorite player."
Charles played in just eight games over the past two seasons after tearing his right ACL in October 2015, leading the Chiefs to cut him this winter.
Charles posted videos on Twitter of his workouts to show how primed he is for a comeback at age 30.
"I still can play ball," Charles said. "I still can keep up with the young people. So, I feel I still have more in my tank."
Charles ran for 7,260 yards and 43 touchdowns in nine seasons with the Chiefs. He added 2,457 yards receiving and 20 TD catches. But a career that looked as if it would land Charles in the Hall of Fame was derailed the past few years by injuries that cut short several seasons in his prime.
He tore his left ACL while taking an awkward step out of bounds in Detroit in 2011. He tore his right ACL against Chicago four years later.
After missing the start of last season, Charles returned to play in only three games, carrying 12 times for 40 yards, before requiring more operations on his knees.
The Chiefs cut the four-time Pro bowl running back to clear more than $6 million in salary cap space so they could focus on solidifying their O-line and keep the heart and soul of their defense — All-Pro safety Eric Berry.
At the NFL combine in March, Chiefs GM John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid reminisced about Charles, saying they believe he'll be enshrined in Canton one day.
"Jamaal Charles, to me, is one of the finest football players to ever play in the National Football League," Dorsey said. "These are hard decisions to make when you have a player of that magnitude and that caliber."
"One of my favorite guys I've had a chance to coach," Reid said at the combine. "You know, he's not a very big guy but he's fearless, he ran inside, had the speed outside, world-class speed to turn the corner. Had great hands and on top of that he's a great kid and just dirty tough. ... But we all do get older and that's the way the National Football League is."
When he cut him, Dorsey wished "Jamaal and his family the best of luck in their next step."
That's in Denver, where Charles, whose 5.5-yard career rushing average is the best in NFL history, will get two cracks at his former team: the Broncos visit the Chiefs on Oct. 30 and host them Dec. 31.
"I'm just happy I get to play them twice a year," Charles said, chuckling. "I'll just leave it like that. I'll let those two games speak for themselves. At the end of the day, I love my (former) teammates. I wish them the best. I know they wish me the best, too. At the end of the day, it's about how we can feed our families. I'm here with the Broncos."
Charles joins a backfield that was bruised and battered last season and was unable to keep pressure off the Broncos' young quarterbacks and wide receivers.
C.J. Anderson missed the second half of the season with a torn meniscus and he was joined on IR by Kapri Bibbs (hamstring) and fullback Andy Janovich (ankle). Rookie Devontae Booker, who was coming off two knee surgeries, led the team with 612 yards rushing and four TDs.
As a group, the Broncos averaged 92.8 rushing yards, ranking 27th in the NFL, a big reason they failed to make the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl.
The Broncos also drafted De'Angelo Henderson of Coastal Carolina in the sixth round last weekend.
"I just love C.J. Anderson's game," Charles said. "He's powerful and he's fast. He is physical and he breaks tackles. Just playing with a guy like that, I just want to come in here and help the team with my explosiveness. I want to come up and play for each other and push each other to get better. That's the goal at the end of the day.
"Now we're on the same team," added Charles, who will join his new teammates Monday, "so we're going to try and push each other to get to the one goal, and that's another Super Bowl."
Broncos RB Jamaal Charles says getting cut by the Chiefs was ‘personal’
Jamaal Charles has spent his entire career trying to beat the Broncos twice a year, racking up more rushing yards against Denver than any other team in the NFL. Now, he’s trying to win a Super Bowl with his former rival.
Based on his comments Tuesday, after signing a one-year deal with the Broncos, he may not have hated Denver as much as one would assume. In fact, he’s always wanted to play for John Elway’s team.
“I always wanted to play with Denver,” Charles said via the team’s official site. “Growing up, John Elway was my favorite player. I just like the environment, the team and the organization. I wanted to be a part of it. I still feel like I can still play ball. I can keep up with the young people.”
The reason Charles was even available is because the Chiefs decided to cut him, saving themselves about $6 million. Considering he’s played only eight games in the last two seasons, it’s hard to blame the Chiefs for making that decision.
While it was purely a business decision for Kansas City, Charles took it personally.
“Really, it’s behind me,” Charles said. “I really don’t even talk about it. I love the organization, love the team. At the end of the day it’s a business, but it’s kind of personal as well. It is what it is.”
Charles — 30 years old and coming off an ACL tear that has limited him to just three games in the past season and a half — said he still has “a lot” left in the tank and feels like he can “keep up with the young people.” His main motivation throughout this entire process was proving people wrong after he failed to come back from a knee injury.
You can bet he’d like to not only prove fans and the media wrong but the Chiefs organization, too. Charles will now share the backfield with C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, accepting a smaller role than the one he had in nine seasons with Kansas City in which he became the Chiefs’ all-time leading rusher.
Jamaal Charles’ role in Denver? “Come in and compete”
New Broncos running back Jamaal Charles had plenty of things to say during his introductory conference call with the Denver media. On the most important topic — what will your role be with the team? — he had no insight.
“They just told me to come in and compete,” Charles said. “I really don’t know until the game comes. I’m just happy to be on the team.”
Charles nevertheless provided a glimpse into what he believes he’ll be doing, based on his strengths.
“I just want to use my abilities to help and catch it out the backfield,” Charles said. “I run screens really well, being patient, running routes out the backfield. That’s kind of been a part of my game the last couple years. I like [Mike] McCoy, the offensive coordinator, and what he did in San Diego and now being back with the Broncos. I’ve seen what his vision is and I see what my vision is — to help the team out of the backfield and catch the ball. That is what my job is. I’m out here to help the team out.”
Whether he can help the team depends on his health and his ability to play like he used to. If Charles can, the Chiefs may have their hands full on October 30 and then on December 31, when they face the Broncos and the former Chief.