The Chiefs do not plan to pick up the running back's $5.5 million fifth-year option for the 2024 season, according to NFL.com. He will remain with the Chiefs this season, barring a trade or release, then hit free agency.
The decision comes just one day after Chiefs GM Brett Veach effusively praised Edwards-Helaire after being asked about the fifth-year option deadline on Wednesday. Crucially, he made no commitments either way:
"With the draft just being over now that's another thing that we'll get addressed here soon. We're excited though for Clyde [Edwards-Helaire] this season. He was actually the first guy I saw in the building today, in tremendous shape. He's a good football player. He's going to help us out here, again, with these guys we have a list of things to do with a bunch of these guys and now that the draft is officially ended in the next coming weeks now's the time we go through all that stuff and start making our plans for the future. But needless to say, we're excited to have him back in the building today and look forward to hopefully a healthy 2023 campaign for him."
The Chiefs drafted Edwards-Helaire 32nd overall out of LSU in the 2020 NFL Draft. He entered the league after posting 1,867 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns in his junior season while playing alongside Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase on one of the most talented teams college football has ever seen.
A shifty back with strong experience as a receiver, Edwards-Helaire sounded like a perfect fit playing alongside Patrick Mahomes. He looked like he was on the right track after his rookie season, in which he posted 1,100 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in 13 games.
However, injuries became a consistent issue for Edwards-Helaire, one of the NFL's smaller running backs at 5-foot-7, 207 pounds. He missed three games in his rookie season with a hip and ankle injury, five games in 2021 with an MCL sprain and missed the final seven regular season games of 2022 with an ankle injury. He was activated in time for Super Bowl LVII, but was still listed as inactive.
Even when Edwards-Helaire played last season, he also saw a significantly diminished role. And when he was sidelined, rookie Isiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon, whom the Chiefs re-signed Tuesday, provided a Super Bowl-winning one-two punch for the Chiefs.
That apparently left the Chiefs with not much reason to keep a former first-rounder around long term.