Back in 1993, then Chiefs General Manager Carl Peterson signed a highly productive running back whose former team thought he was washed up at 33 years of age. That running back was former Oakland Raider great Marcus Allen.
Allen was brought in to take 26-year-old running back Harvey Williams under his wing, and provide the team some insurance should Williams falter in the running game. It wasn't long before Allen replaced the ineffective Williams, he went on to provide the Chiefs with five solid seasons.
The signing of Thomas Jones by the Chiefs current GM Scott Pioli bears a remarkable resemblance to the signing of Allen 17 years ago.
Jones, at 31, is younger than Allen was when he came to the Chiefs. He has also rushed for more yards in his ten pro seasons before coming to the Chiefs (9,217), than Allen rushed for in his 11 seasons as a Raider (8,545).
However, unlike the situation Allen found himself in with an unproven back like Williams to compete with, Jones joins a backfield with the up-and-coming Jamaal Charles.
Charles, at just 23, is much better after two pro seasons than Williams was at any point in his career. With 1,477 rushing yards in 257 attempts, Charles is averaging 5.7 yards per rush, and should not be in any jeopardy of losing his starting job anytime soon.
So why did Pioli bring Mr. Jones to Kansas City?
After all, it's not often that you see a running back who gained 1,402 yards the previous season signing a deal to be a backup.
In short, Pioli is bringing Jones to Kansas City to share the load with Charles.
While Charles is fully expected to be the Chiefs starter at running back this season, Coach Todd Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis won't be asking Charles to break Larry Johnson's record for rushes (416) anytime soon.
Charles should get a bulk of the carries, and Jones should be expected to spell him as needed.
What's more, in addition to being the Chiefs leading rusher last season, Charles was a vital piece of the Chiefs passing game as well. No other running back on the Chiefs roster last season, provided the Chiefs the same receiving threat out of the backfield when Charles needed a breather.
The signing of Jones gives the Chiefs another back who is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield, preventing opposing defenses from scheming differently based solely on which back the Chiefs have in their backfield.
At the end of the day, Jones will also serve as an insurance policy if Charles can't make it through the entire season as the club's starter.
Even if Charles stays healthy, and there's no reason to think he won't, Jones should get plenty of carries and provide the Chiefs with what is possibly the best running back tandem in the NFL in 2010.