K.C. then went 11-2 and made the playoffs.
Behind Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, coach Andy Reid's offense hummed along to 10 straight regular season wins. The Chiefs finished sixth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 127.8 yards per game. West's between-the-tackles running, Ware's strength and elusiveness -- combined with Alex Smith's mobility -- provided Kansas City with a chain-moving ground attack.
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After watching West and Ware, NFL Media analyst and Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk wondered if the duo has made Charles expendable.
"The conversation is, 'Why does Kansas City keep Jamaal Charles when you saw Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West? For what reason?'" Faulk recently asked the Kansas City Star. "I can't even see what reason they would continue to pay (him) if they have a way of getting up from under that contract and dispersing money elsewhere to fill some of the gaps that they have. And that's just real talk -- that's the business of the game.
"I love Jamaal, and I think he could find another home. I think there's a lot left in him. But looking at what went on when he went down in Kansas City, are his days possibly numbered there?"
The Chiefs could save about $5.3 million dollars -- with no dead money -- by cutting Charles. K.C. has a bevy of pending free agents including Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Jaye Howard, Sean Smith and Husain Abdullah, among others. However, the Chiefs will also have an estimated $32 million in salary-cap space without snipping Charles, per OverTheCap.com.
When asked about Charles in January, it didn't sound like cutting the veteran was on general manager John Dorsey's radar.
"The guy is an extremely talented player. Love him to death. Love how dirty-tough he is. Yeah, he's a Chief," Dorsey said at the time.
Even if the Chiefs could cut Charles following his second ACL tear, teams don't win by sending outsized talent like him packing.
What 2015 displayed is less that the Chiefs should part ways with Charles and more that they now know they have the backups to rest him more often during the season.
"First of all, they were ready to play," Faulk said of West and Ware. "For guys who hadn't had a lot of playing time, how they stepped up and shared the load (was impressive). Both having the ability to run inside and outside, they both catch the ball pretty well, and probably the most important thing is in pass protection: They understood not just who to get, but how to get guys."
Fantasy football fans might not like it, but we could see a running back rotation with Charles in K.C. in 2016.