With the addition of Le’Veon Bell to the Kansas City Chiefs’ running back room, the fate of other running backs on the roster comes into question.
It was reported that before signing with the Chiefs, Le’Veon Bell spoke with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, making sure it would not offend him or rub him the wrong way if Bell signed with the Chiefs. Both players knew that Bell’s joining the roster would result in less snaps for the rookie, so it was just a respectful move from a veteran player.
However, Le’Veon might have asked the wrong person.
Yes, CEH will see a drop in snaps overall, although with Le’Veon to steal looks from the defense, CEH might find some interesting looks at the slot, but it is the two running backs behind CEH on the roster that will see the more significant drop in snaps, specifically Darrel Williams.
Darrel Williams has been stepping in as the Chiefs #2 back, coming in on passing downs and to give Clyde Edwards-Helaire some rests. He has 17 rushing attempts and been the target of 12 passes, with a rushing touchdown as well. Not high numbers by any stretch, but his presence has certainly helped give the Chiefs a boost on multiple occasions.
However, with another running back to grab snaps, Darrel Williams role in the offense diminishes significantly. Why put Darrel Williams in to supply rest when you could put Le’Veon Bell (or CEH, really it depends on who the official starter is moving forward) in for a few plays? Le’Veon Bell is one of the best pass blocking running backs and receiving backs in the game, so why use Williams on passing downs anymore?
The Chiefs now have five running backs on the active roster: CEH, Bell, Williams, Thompson, and Washington. Washington already was not getting snaps, and Thompson’s snaps were limited to late game situations when the Chiefs were already winning handily.
The signing of Bell is likely to push Thompson into Washington’s role, push Washington back to the practice squad (likely the corresponding move for when Saunders comes back next week), and that leaves Williams to fill Thompson’s role.
This is less then ideal for both Williams and the Chiefs: for Williams, he loses the opportunity to compete and prove his value, and for the Chiefs, because they lose a trade asset.
You might be asking yourself “Which team is going to trade for Darrel Williams?” That is a great question, and to answer that, let me point you to everyone’s favorite dumpster fire, the NFC East.
Despite every team in the division having losing records, every team is within a two wins of the number one spot, meaning every team in the division is likely to be buying this season. Specifically, the New York Giants and Washington Football Team both would benefit from bringing in a great pass blocking running back.
If neither of those teams, maybe one of the teams that could hire Eric Bienemy this offseason. Houston or Atlanta both could seperate with a late draft pick for a running back with experience like Williams has.
The Chiefs, and specifically general manager Brett Veach, have this uncanny ability to find stars in the late rounds of the draft: L’jarius Sneed was a late fourth round pick, Mike Danna was a fifth round pick, Rashad Fenton was a sixth round pick, Nick Allegretti was a seventh round pick. It is one of the many things that makes Veach so great, and any chance the Chiefs get to gather more late round picks is going to benefit the Chiefs. Especially if Veach can find some quality offensive linemen in those picks.
Giving Darrel Williams snaps will help the Chiefs advertise the asset they are trying to move, and will hopefully result in a team desperate for a piece like Darrel will come calling before the trade deadline.