Chiefs get Bennett, but not giving up on Holmes

Updated: August 3, 2006, 9:47 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

With the future of Priest Holmes still undetermined, the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday night acquired running back Michael Bennett from the New Orleans Saints for an undisclosed draft choice.

Elias Says ...
Michael Bennett
Bennett
Kansas City, with Michael Bennett, Priest Holmes (whose status for the 2006 season is in doubt) and Larry Johnson, now has three players who formerly rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season. That's not as unusual as you may think. Since 2000, three teams have had three different former 1,000-yard runners: the 2000 Broncos (Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary and Raymont Harris), 2001 Broncos (Davis, Gary and Mike Anderson) and the 2005 Saints (Deuce McAllister, Antowain Smith and Anthony Thomas).

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The subject of considerable trade talk ever since the Saints chose Reggie Bush in the first round of the draft, Bennett will become the primary backup to starter Larry Johnson. The absence of Holmes, and the possibility that he might be forced to retire because of head and neck injuries sustained last season, left the Chiefs perilously thin at the position.

"This is not an indication that Priest is not coming back," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said Wednesday.

Holmes was placed on the physically unable to perform list before the opening of training camp and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future.

"He's comfortable with that and we're comfortable with that," Peterson said. "We'll continue to monitor his physical well being. I've had conversations with him and he's right now where he is. But the doctors have still not given him a release to have contact."

Several teams inquired about Bennett and, in the past week, the St. Louis Rams -- who will be without Marshall Faulk for all of the 2006 season -- offered the Saints a fourth-round pick in next year's draft. Bennett would have preferred being traded to the Rams, where Scott Linehan, his onetime offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, is the first-year head coach.

New Orleans officials told Bennett and his agent that they dealt him to Kansas City because they did not want to trade him to an NFC team. Other franchises that expressed an interest in Bennett in the last three months included Miami and Houston.

The Saints could have traded Bennett earlier, but held off until they could assess the recovery of starting tailback Deuce McAllister from 2005 knee surgery and until they got Bush under contract.

A former first-round draft choice and a onetime Pro Bowl performer, Bennett was signed by the Saints as an unrestricted free agent on March 17, at a time when New Orleans was seeking an established back and had no idea Bush would be available at No. 2 in the draft. Bennett signed a two-year, $3 million contract.

Before signing with the Saints, Bennett, 27, played all five previous seasons with the Vikings, who chose him in the first round of the 2001 draft. The former University of Wisconsin star was the draft's 27th overall selection that year, four spots after the Saints chose McAllister.

The speedy Bennett rushed for 1,296 yards and five touchdowns in '02, and became the first player in NFL history to produce runs of 60-plus yards in three straight games that year. Over the ensuing three seasons, however, Bennett totaled only 1,196 yards and five touchdowns. In 16 appearances in 2005, including six starts, he carried 126 times for 473 yards and three touchdowns.

For his career, Bennett has 713 carries for 3,174 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also has 126 receptions for 1,040 yards and five scores. Bennett has appeared in 64 games, starting 49.

Although hampered by injury, Holmes rushed for 1,341 yards and 20 touchdowns in the 15 regular-season games in the 2004-2005 season.

He could be called off the physically unable to perform list at any time during training camp. Once the regular season begins, he would have to remain inactive for six weeks.

"Then you have a three-week window to practice him, activate him, keep him on PUP or do whatever you feel is necessary," Peterson said. "There are still options open for Priest. I've said it a hundred times: I wouldn't count the man out. People did before and they were wrong. I don't know what the final outcome of this will be."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.