The Kansas City Chiefs are only one week into the offseason, but have already managed to make several acquisitions for 2014. Kansas City made seven roster moves this week, one of which was signing former New York Jet Joe McKnight.
McKnight was released by the Jets in August after serving as a running back and kick returner for the team since 2010. McKnight was at one time the No. 1 ranked RB out of high school according to Rivals.com, but has failed to live up to the hype in college and in the NFL and has faded into obscurity over the last few years.
Why this would be one of the initial moves of Kansas City’s offseason is tough to put a finger on. The Chiefs are in great shape at the running back position with superstar Jamaal Charles at the helm, in addition to one of the more promising young backs in the league in backup Knile Davis.
McKnight’s abilities as a returner are probably what Kansas City is interested in. McKnight was an All-Pro selection as a kick returner in 2011, when he averaged over 31 yards per return for New York. Still, Kansas City already has the best kick return unit in the league, averaging nearly 3o yards every time Davis or Qunitin Demps takes the ball out.
If this move has implications for anybody on the Chiefs’ 2013 roster, it would have to be utility man Dexter McCluster. McCluster has been somewhat of a hybrid running back/wide reciever/return man for Kansas City during his tenure with the organization and is now a free agent.
Kansas City has expressed its intentions to attempt to resign McCluster, but this move seems to indicate the opposite. McKnight is an amazing athlete and has shown the capability to play numerous positions, including cornerback at times. Kansas City may be looking to use him in a similar capacity that McCluster was used this season.
McCluster is coming off a career season as a receiver and return man, and will likely be asking for the pay raise to reflect his contributions to Kansas City’s turnaround season. McKnight could be a legitimate attempt to boost KC’s running back and special teams depth or he could be a ploy to increase Chiefs’ leverage in contract negotiations with McCluster.
My bet is on the latter, as McKnight has never shown that he can be anything more than unrealized talent. Expecting any type of significant contribution from him would be foolish of Kansas City.