Defensive end Taco Charlton had choices in mid-March, which signaled the start of NFL free agency.
Charlton found himself without a home after originally joining the Chiefs on a one-year deal in 2020.
But when the opportunity presented itself to return to Kansas City, Charlton’s decision came easy.
“I wanted to finish what I started,” Charlton said after Wednesday’s practice. “I feel like I got off to a good start and I wanted to help this team do some things, and the injury took that away from me.”
The Chiefs originally signed Charlton, a former 2017 first-round pick with the Dallas Cowboys, shortly after the Miami Dolphins released him in late April 2020.
He became part of the Chiefs’ defensive end rotation and quickly made an impact. He appeared in seven games, totaling seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and four quarterback hits before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8.
“It hurt that we lost him,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said after Wednesday’s practice. “Any time you lose edge rushers, that sets you back a little bit.”
Charlton said it “tough” suffering the injury when he did, pointing out he was hurt he couldn’t be a part of the Chiefs’ push to a consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
“That part hurt me, but I was also happy to see them winning games,” he said. “Catch 22 — happy, but also hurt I couldn’t be a part of their success.”
With nothing but time on his hands after suffering the injury and undergoing surgery in late November 2020, Charlton refocused his efforts on attacking the recovery process.
And he used the same approach to rehabilitation that he uses to preparing for a game.
“It was just a transition of mindset, just that same hunger I was going after on the field,” Charlton said. “I just transitioned to rehab to try and get myself back to where I was and back to how I was playing before the injury.”
Charlton joins Frank Clark, Mike Danna, Alex Okafor, Tim Ward and rookie Joshua Kaindoh, among others, at the defensive end position.
While it hasn’t been a full year since the injury, Charlton has worked himself back to shape despite having to deal with periodic pain.
“Some days I feel great, I feel like my old self,” he said. “Some days after banging it around, I might come back and it’s a little sore, it’s hurting me a little bit.
“So, it has it’s good days and bad days, but I try to push through it. I’m just happy to be out there and do something.”
Charlton isn’t the only happy person on the defensive side happy.
“We’re glad we got him,” Spagnuolo said.