“He’s a guy that played with Mike Kafka last year in that [Brian] Daboll offense in New York,” Veach began after being asked about the recent WR signing.
“Versatile player, you can move him around a lot, Middle Tennessee State guy that we liked.” Then, out of nowhere, Veach divulged some unexpected information on James. “Actually, I think a few years ago there was a trading deadline period when he was with the [San Francisco 49ers], I think we actually tried to trade for him.
One of those waiver wire cut day deals,” the Chiefs GM revealed, adding: “Always liked the player, think he’s a versatile guy and he also does punt returns too, so we can take some pressure off of K.T. [Kadarius Toney] or Skyy [Moore] or whoever’s back there — having another guy is something that we think is a plus.”
Richie James Faced Chiefs in Super Bowl With 49ers
Veach didn’t get into what year that was that he almost landed James ahead of Week 1, but perhaps it was just after the Chiefs went up against the Niners in the Super Bowl.
KC got a good look at the wide receiver/special teamer during the 2019 season’s championship game. James returned four kickoffs that day, as well as one punt — although it wasn’t exactly his best outing.
He muffed the punt, but was able to recover, and only averaged 15.25 yards per kick return. James was not targeted in the passing game either. Maybe that’s why the trade never happened. All jokes aside, James has found a niche as a solid role player on offense and a plus-returner on special teams throughout his career.
The former seventh rounder’s yardage totals as a receiver have increased every year that he’s been in the league, and he flaunts an impressive kick return average of 23.0 overall (one touchdown).
James is also coming off a career-year under Kafka with 569 receiving yards, four touchdowns and 29 first downs. As Veach alluded, the strong campaign within an ex-Chiefs coach’s system no doubt factored in their decision to sign the veteran gadget receiver.