When the Kansas City Chiefs signed WR Richie James in free agency it came as a bit of a surprise. Everyone knew the team was interested in adding to their receiver room, but the specific player, not so much. As it turns out, the Chiefs have had their eye on James for quite some time.
Speaking to media members during his pre-draft press conference, Chiefs GM Brett Veach provided some details behind the signing. Apparently, the team had been interested in James since he was at Middle Tennessee State University. They even attempted to acquire him in a trade back when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s a guy that played with (Giants Offensive Coordinator), Mike Kafka, last year in that (Giants Head Coach Brian) Daboll offense in New York (with the Giants),” Veach explained. “(He’s) a versatile player, you can move him around a lot, (he’s) a Middle Tennessee State guy that we liked. Actually, I think a few years ago, there was a trading deadline period when he was with the (San Francisco 49ers) Niners, I think we actually tried to trade for him. One of those waiver wire cut-day deals, but I’ve always liked the player. I think he’s a very versatile guy and he also does punt returns too, so he can take some pressure off of KT (Kadarius Toney) or Skyy (Moore) or whoever is back there. Just having another guy is something that we think is a plus.”
After Kadarius Toney was able to pick up the offense rather quickly, it seems they’re expecting a similar process for James. Mike Kafka’s offense in New York apparently uses many familiar concepts and terms.
Veach’s comments about James returning punts in the stead of Toney and Moore are reassuring. It suggests that both of those players are, in fact, due for larger roles on offense in 2023. They’ll need a player like James to fill in on punt returns to lessen some of the workloads for Moore and Toney.
Whether James amounts to more than depth remains to be seen. He’s already down in Texas working with Patrick Mahomes and his new teammates. That shows that he’s at least motivated to make an outsized impact.