In 2017, only two NFL running backs counted more than $10 million against the salary cap. One was Le’Veon Bell, who played under the franchise tag with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other was LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills.
If the Bills paid McCoy so handsomely in 2017, how could he represent a positive salary cap value for the club? Imagine last season if McCoy had not suited up for the Bills. Imagine watching Mike Tolbert, Travaris Cadet, and Marcus Murphy trying to replicate what McCoy did for the Bills, and what he has done for them in each of the three years he’s played in Orchard Park. Yes, McCoy made a huge sum of money in 2017; however, he was worth every penny the Bills paid him.
2017 Cap Hit (per Spotrac): 10,375,000 (6.69% of 2017 Cap)
2017 Cap Hit Rank by Position: 2nd among running backs
2017 Vital Stats: 16 games played, 16 starts, 287 rushing attempts, 1,138 yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 77 targets, 59 receptions, 448 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
McCoy had a career-low 4 yards-per-carry average in 2017 that can mostly be attributed to a poor start to the season. During the first five weeks of the season, McCoy carried the ball 87 times, gaining 279 yards (3.21 YPC) with zero touchdowns. After the team’s bye week, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison began using more power-blocking concepts in the running game, concepts that were better suited for the offensive linemen on the roster. McCoy finished the year by carrying the ball an even 200 times and gaining 859 yards (4.32 YPC) with all six of his rushing touchdowns. Coming into 2017, McCoy’s average yards per carry was 4.7. Although the final 11 games of 2017 would still represent a downgrade, it isn’t nearly as bad as the first five games made McCoy’s season look.
Buffalo’s top offensive weapon was vital to the team’s success last year. The Bills gained 4,842 yards of total offense last season. McCoy accounted for 1,586 of those yards, or 32.8% of the Bills’ offensive output. Sure, he made a hefty salary last season, but he earned that salary through excellent play. Pro Football Focus ranked McCoy at number nine among halfbacks, grading him at 84.4 (“above-average”) for the season. He also came in at number 99 on the analytics site’s list of the 101 best players of 2017.
Not every great value is found on a rookie contract, and sometimes, great value still comes at a steep price. As the old adage states, “you get what you pay for,” and in the case of LeSean McCoy, they paid for an explosive, game-changing running back, which is exactly what McCoy was in 2017.
Best 2017 Bills salary cap values
10. QB Tyrod Taylor (article)
9. LB Preston Brown (article)
8. LT Dion Dawkins (article)
7. LB Matt Milano (article)
6. CB E.J. Gaines (article)
5. RB LeSean McCoy (article)
4. OG Richie Incognito (article)
3. FS Micah Hyde (article)
2. SS Jordan Poyer (article)
1. CB Tre’Davious White (article)