LeSean McCoy has undoubtably excelled in his three seasons as the Buffalo Bills’ starting running back, but according to spotrac his current contract carries a cap hit of $8.9 million, which is $2 million more than any of back across the league currently under contract (until Le’Veon Bell inks his deal, anyway). McCoy is also going to hit the dreaded age of 30 by the time the 2018 season rolls around.
Now, it’s not likely the Bills will move on from McCoy — he’s been the team’s most consistent producer on offense the past three seasons, and even more in 2017 with Buffalo’s eyesore of a unit. If the Bills were to elect to replace McCoy with a free-agent option, there are several intriguing and cheaper options that are set to hit the open market.
Here are five free-agent-to-be running backs, according to spotrac, that have all made a bunch of starts in their respective careers and could potentially fill in admirably as the Bills’ starter.
Jeremy Hill, 25, Cincinnati Bengals
Of all the running backs mentioned here, Hill is my personal favorite. Not only is age on his side, but he’s a very large man (6’1”, 233 lbs.) with deceptive speed.
Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury midway through 2017, Hill, who has a 1000-yard rushing campaign under his belt, had shown good durability throughout his career. The injury coupled with 2017 second-rounder Joe Mixon in the Bengals’ stable, the team could very well choose to move on from Hill.
Career rushing numbers: 2873 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 4.1 Y/A with 43 career starts
Career receiving numbers: 67 receptions, 484 yards, and one touchdown
Isaiah Crowell, 25, Cleveland Browns
Like Hill, Crowell’s age also makes him a very attractive potential option for the Bills. Crowell (5’11”, 225 lbs.) also has good size and has demonstrated excellent durability, having played in all 64 games of his four-year career.
It’s not certain that the Browns will move on from Crowell with no realistic options in-house at the moment to replace him, but they do hold the first and fourth overall picks in the 2018 draft, either of which they seemingly could use on highly-touted running back prospect Saquon Barkley.
Career rushing numbers: 3118 yards, 21 touchdowns 4.2 Y/A with 45 career starts
Career receiving numbers: 96 receptions, 770 yards and one touchdown
Carlos Hyde, 27, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has arguably more potential than any of the other backs mentioned here.
After a slow start to his career due to injury, Hyde has come on the last two seasons, posting better than 900 yards rushing in each. The former second-round pick was a highly touted prospect coming out of Ohio State in 2014.
Career rushing numbers: 2729 yards, 21 touchdowns, 4.2 Y/A with 36 career starts
Career receiving numbers: 109 receptions, 634 yards, and three touchdowns
Alfred Morris, 29, Dallas Cowboys
Serving as a backup for the Cowboys this past season, Morris rushed for over 500 yards despite seeing only five starts. Before arriving in Dallas in 2016, Morris, a former sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, took the league by storm as rookie in 2012, when he when he rushed for 1613 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Washington Redskins. Morris has a total of three 1000-yard seasons under his belt
After two years of playing behind Ezekiel Elliott, Morris may be eager to move on to a destination where he’d have a change at a bigger role.
Career rushing totals: 5503 yards, 32 touchdowns 4.4 Y/A with 69 career starts
Career receiving totals: 57 receptions, 421 yards, and zero touchdowns
LeGarrette Blount, 31, Philadelphia Eagles
A proven veteran, Blount, rushed for better than 700 yards in 2017, despite splitting carries with Jay Ajayi. At 6’1”, 245 lbs., Blount is an absolute load for defenders to deal with.
While he’s older than McCoy, as well as the other backs mentioned, Blount, who has a couple of 1000-yard rushing campaigns on his resume, would be a strong (no pun intended) short-term option for the Bills.
Career rushing totals: 5888 yards, 51 touchdowns, 4.4 Y/A with 54 career starts
Career receiving totals: 54 receptions, 387 yards, and two touchdowns
- Video analysis: Shady was awesome in 2017
- Bills wouldn’t save enough cap space to justify McCoy’s release
- There are no current Bills ready to replace LeSean McCoy
- Bills would have to trade up to get an NFL Draft RB as good as McCoy
- 2018 NFL Draft options to replace Shady would involve a trade up
- Shady is good; add a change of pace back