FOOTBALL: What’s next, Jamaal? Free-agent Charles at peace with game if no other offer presented

Published 1:22 pm Saturday, June 16, 2018

Elandon Roberts doesn’t have to put in a word to the New England Patriots about fellow Port Arthuran Jamaal Charles.

“The Patriots, I let them handle their business,” said Roberts, the two-year veteran linebacker who’s played in the Super Bowl both years. “Of course, you know everybody in the NFL knows Jamaal has a lot left in the tank.”

But after 10 years of setting records and battling injuries, Charles has yet to land on another NFL roster.

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The running back and 2005 Memorial graduate completed a one-year contract with the Denver Broncos, an AFC West rival of a team he built a potential hall-of-fame career with, the Kansas City Chiefs. But Charles said Saturday at his “Mini Camp” at the Memorial practice field he’s at peace with the game if he’s taken his final NFL snap.

“I hope to get a call at the right place at the right time, but if not, I’m happy with what I did in my career,” Charles said. “Happy to move on because football is not going to last forever for me. The one thing I know, you’ve got to have education. You’ve got to get these books. If you don’t learn nothing in society, you won’t strive in it.”

About 100 children ages 6-17 showed up at Charles’ camp, according to organizer and Charles’ uncle Robert LeBlanc, but he added the smaller pool allowed the kids the gain more individual attention.

Charles expressed displeasure with a visit to the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, adding he only talked with team doctors and “sat around” instead of getting to do drills.

“Basically, they said I don’t fit the scheme,” Charles said with a grin. “I’m like, ‘If I don’t fit the scheme, why did you bring me? If you knew I don’t fit the scheme, you shouldn’t have brought me.’ But it’s what the business is. I was happy to even be able to go visit, meet some friends and see people.”

Charles, 31, the seventh-leading active rusher in the NFL with 7,556 career yards, is a free agent for the second offseason in a row. He played 14 games with the Broncos in 2017 and totaled only 296 yards on 69 carries and 129 yards on 23 receptions.

He also battled knee injuries during his last two seasons at Kansas City. He sustained a season-ending ACL tear during the fifth week of the 2015 season against Chicago and did not play again until Oct. 2, 2016, against Pittsburgh. He played three games, rushing for a season-high 33 yards against Oakland, before Florida surgeon Dr. James Andrews discovered a meniscus tear and operated on the injured knee.

Charles said he feels better about his health than he did last year.

“I’m real healthy,” he said. “I feel great, better than I felt last year. My body feels good. I can’t complain. I’m in a great situation. I’m in great health. I can walk every day. Right now, I’m blessed.”

Charles, who won a national championship at the University of Texas as a freshman, made the Pro Bowl four times and was named All-Pro twice. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (12) and total touchdowns (19) in 2013 and ranks first among active players in career rushing yards per attempt with 5.4.

“I can’t complain,” Charles said. “I was able to accomplish a couple of dreams in football. I did 10 years and I was able to accomplish a lot of stuff most people haven’t accomplished, Pro Bowls and All-Pro and breaking records and this and that. It’s a point when you have to move on and accomplish some other dreams. …

“I wanted to win the Super Bowl, but I’m at peace if I don’t move on from it. I’m happier to do something in my life. I’ve got other things I want to accomplish.”

He added he has “a couple of things lined up” for life after football, whenever that may come, but he declined to go into specifics, citing confidentiality reasons.

“Just trying to make the best decision and smartest decision right now,” he said. “I’m not going to turn down the NFL right now, but if the right decision comes, I’ll definitely take it.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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