With the news that star Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy could be seeing some legal trouble in his future, it’s pertinent to discuss some of the free agent running backs still on the market. As is typical when discussing free agents this time of year, the selections are less-than-impressive. However, a couple might prove to be valuable additions if forced to take the field. With that, let’s get started.
The league’s leading rusher in 2014 has proven that he can be a productive, if not efficient, runner when given the opportunity. Murray rushed for 1,287 and nine touchdowns with the Tennessee Titans as recently as 2016. However, he was cut by the Titans after the organization decided to put all their eggs into Derrick Henry’s basket. Still “only” 30 years old, Murray has the talent to be a decent stop-gap for the Bills if McCoy is forced to miss any time and is probably the most attractive option on this list.
Former University at Buffalo star Branden Oliver was an undrafted free agent pickup of the San Diego Chargers in 2014. After acquitting himself well his rookie year, injuries began to adversely affect his playing time, along with the addition of Melvin Gordon. After a 2016 preseason Achilles tear, Oliver has largely fallen off of teams’ radar. Now allegedly healthy, Oliver is looking for his next opportunity.
The Arizona Cardinal’s starting running back from 2013-2014, Ellington was never the most talented running back but was versatile enough as a runner and receiver in Bruce Arians offense to be effective. Relegated to the backup job after David Johnson burst on to the scene, Ellington tried to make a position switch to wide receiver in 2017 but failed. Although his rushing statistics have largely fallen off a cliff, he can still be effective option in the passing game after catching 39 passes for 369 yards last season.
A player Bills fans should be familiar with, Spiller’s career has taken a nosedive since he left the team in 2015. After a disappointing stint with the New Orleans Saints, Spiller has bounced around the league and most recently found himself with the Kansas City Chiefs. Age and injuries have sapped the formerly explosive runner of much of his speed but, similar to Andre Ellington, Spiller can still offer positive contributions in the passing game.
Another formally dynamic playmaker, Peterson managed to rush for 529 yards and two touchdowns last year despite only starting seven games for Arizona. Ending the year on injured reserve, Peterson may be looking at his last chance to see an NFL field this year. If healthy, Peterson could be a short-term, steady presence the Bills might need in the absence of McCoy. (It should be noted that Peterson has dealt with legal issues for alleged child abuse in the past.)