ENGLEWOOD—What to do about Jamaal.
They can make him the man.
“Why would I not think I’m going to be the man,’’ said Jamaal Charles, the Denver Broncos’ veteran running back who did a few individual drills Monday for the first time since the former Kansas City Chief star signed an incentive-laden, one-year contract last month. “You think I just want to come in here and be like? That’s never been me in my whole life. My whole life, I’ve always felt like I’m going to the be the man. That is what I want to come up in here. If I’m not going to be the man, why am I here? I should be at home sitting on the coach.”
Thing is, if Charles is the man, dresses for all 16 games, picks up 1,400 combined yards rushing and receiving, and the Broncos make the playoffs, he’ll collect $3.75 million.
Charles could also slip into a Ronnie Hillman, 1B role. If he dresses for 16 games and picks up a well-timed 750 rushing and receiving yards combined, and the Broncos make the playoffs, he’ll still make $2.9 million.
With C.J. Anderson already making $3 million this year, Devontae Booker getting more first-team reps during the Broncos’ organized team activities (OTAs), and rookie De’Angelo Henderson starting to pick up the playbook and play faster, the Broncos may not need Charles to be the man.
But he can still help in a part-time role, a man among men.
“I want to turn Booker into a Pro-Bowl running back when I leave here, and turn C.J. into an All-Pro,’’ Charles said. “I just want to come in here and just bring the energy and the experience. … I want to come in here to show people what I can do. I don’t want to just show up and it be like, ‘Oh, Jamaal was here.’ I want to show up and compete with my teammates and show them that I am good and that I am still at the top of my career.”
For now the back of his bubblegum card says Charles was at the top in 2009-2010 and again in 2012-14. Since the last of his five, 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Charles has had two knee surgeries each of the past two years.
But he’s bounced back from serious knee injury before and he doesn't turn 31 until after Christmas, and he believes the Broncos’ medical methods are what he needs to extend his career.
Although, Charles’ knees are strong enough to compete now, the Broncos decided to back him off until training camp begins around July 27. He has been cutting at near full speed, but still won’t participate in team drills during the OTAs or next week’s three-day, full-squad minicamp.
Not only that the Broncos will pay Charles a $100,000 bonus for completing the team’s offseason workout program that ends next Thursday, June 15. Why rush?
“I feel like I can do OTAs, but there is no need to do OTAs,’’ Charles said. “It’s not like we’re about to go out there and play a game. It’s just being more careful. A lot of people are out of control right now. I’d rather do that in training camp when it’s time to come. Right now, I’m just doing whatever the trainers are telling me to do.”