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Brett Veach: I don’t think we’ve reached a decision on Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze if anything will come from the NFLPA’s findings that injury rates were significantly higher on artificial turf than grass during the 2022 season.

After winning Super Bowl LIV to cap the 2019 season, the Chiefs selected running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Edwards-Helaire has had his moments, but was clearly passed up by Isiah Pacheco on Kansas City’s depth chart in 2022. That likely would have ended up as the case even if Edwards-Helaire hadn’t been injured and missed nearly half the season.

Despite coming off injured reserve in time for Super Bowl LVII, Edwards-Helaire was inactive for the contest.

Because Edwards-Helaire was a first-round pick, the Chiefs will have to decide whether or not to pick up the running back’s fifth-year option. General Manager Brett Veach was asked about that in his Thursday pre-draft press conference but did not give a definitive answer.

“We have some time here, we’ll see,” Veach said. “I think we’ll go through the draft and we’ll handle our business and make smart decisions — like we always do. I don’t think we’ve reached a decision on anything yet.

“But safe to say, once we get through the draft, we’ll look at our board, we’ll look at our offseason business we have to attend to, some different players, and contact stuff. And we’ll handle all that after the draft.”

Edwards-Helaire accounted for 1,100 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns on 181 carries and 36 receptions in 13 games as a rookie. He then accounted for 646 yards from scrimmage with six TDs in 10 contests in 2021 and just 453 yards from scrimmage with six TDs in 10 games with six starts in 2022.

If the Chiefs were to pick up Edwards-Helaire’s option, they would owe him a projected $5.5 million in 2024.

But there’s no guarantee Edwarads-Helaire will even be a significant factor in Kansas City’s backfield this season. Aside from Pacheco, Veach mentioned that the Chiefs will check in with free agent running back Jerrick McKinnon after the draft.

In 2022, McKinnon was second on the team with 10 touchdowns, behind tight end Travis Kelce’s 12.