The Kansas City Chiefs had a hole in their offensive backfield without even thinking of the season-ending injury and consequent rehab for Jamaal Charles. With Thomas Jones, Le’Ron McClain and Jackie Battle all hitting free agency, the team was predicted to explore a second back to pair with the hopefully healthy Charles for a nice tandem a la Jones and Charles in 2010 — a pair that led the league in rushing.
Fast forward a bit and Peyton Hillis seemed to be that man. The former Cleveland Browns running back is exactly the sort of buy-low signing at one-year, $3 million that Scott Pioli loves. Hillis will be playing for a new deal and should be significantly motivated in his new surroundings to move past the drama of his last year in Cleveland.
But the word is that Mike Tolbert, the former Chargers running back, is also visiting the Chiefs and that the visit was not altered because of the Hillis signing. Given how valuable visitation time becomes during the early parts of free agency, it’s amazing that Tolbert would even consider coming to KC unless he could legitimately sign there. But as the team’s third running back? Pro Football Focus has some questions.
Even though Peyton Hillis signed with the Chiefs earlier today, it’s being reported that Mike Tolbert will still visit Kansas City as a potential landing spot. If he is signed it would make for a very crowded backfield, and might be a sign that Jamaal Charles recovery isn’t going as well as one would hope. Both Hillis and Tolbert were at one point fullbacks, and can both catch out of the backfield and run with the ball. Tolbert had just 120 rushes in 2011, and in that time had eight touchdowns and caused 12 players to miss tackles on him. With a young Dexter McCluster also in the backfield, if Tolbert arrives than someone won’t be getting the touches they want.
One facet of his visit could be if the Chiefs were interested in a long-term deal for Tolbert. Part of the selling point could be that Hillis is a one-year rental and Charles’ health is uncertain until he sees game action, so Tolbert could or could not get his carries in year one, but the money and long-term playing time will still be there. If that’s the pitch, then things could make sense.
Still it’s an interesting visit given the state of the Chiefs’ backfield. If he signs, expect some sort of commentary from the team to explain how things will work in Brian Daboll’s offense.