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In-house options to replace LeSean McCoy are slim pickings

If the Bills are truly done with McCoy, they won’t find a replacement within.

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is coming off the worst season of his professional career. If the team chooses to separate with McCoy, could they seek an in-house replacement? Injuries and scheme choices allowed the team to try out a few options in the 2018 season. Unfortunately, none of those options look like the answer in the future. Here’s who could be leading the running back corps in 2019, if the Bills move on from McCoy.

Chris Ivory

2018 stats: 115 carries, 385 yards (3.3 YPC), 1 TD, 13 receptions, 205 yards

Ivory replaced Mike Tolbert as the bruising complement for McCoy’s shifty running style heading into the 2018 season. Buffalo signed him to a two-year, $5.5 million deal that would carry $750K of dead cap if he were cut in 2019, versus a $2.9M cap hit if he stayed with the team.

In a way, Ivory managed to match the role he was signed for. He outplayed Tolbert, was the primary backup running back, and had a game or two where he sparked the offense when McCoy was struggling. Still, 3.3 yards per carry on 115 rushes is not going to cut it in the NFL. Ivory will be 31 years old in 2019, with 1300 career touches, and his career trajectory is pointed down at this stage.

Marcus Murphy

2018 stats: 52 carries, 250 yards (4.8 YPC), 11 receptions, 26 yards

Murphy signed a contract with the Bills near the end of the 2017 season. Pressed into action at the season finale, he impressed with seven carries for 41 yards. Murphy was signed for three years, and he rolled into training camp in 2018 near the back of the pack with Travaris Cadet returning from injury and Ivory signed to a deal.

Murphy held his own in training camp, and he made the opening day active roster. Murphy’s fresh legs were welcome at times during the season, but he struggled in pass protection and the Bills were more reluctant to dial his number as the year wore on. He finished as the team’s fourth-leading rusher. Murphy will be 28 years old in 2019, entering his fifth NFL season.

Keith Ford

2018 stats: 21 carries, 79 yards (3.8 YPC), 3 receptions, 21 yards

Ford joined the Bills as an undrafted free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He started his college career at Oklahoma, but lost his starting job, was suspended, and transferred to Texas A&M. Ford fit into a rotation for the Aggies, rushing for 1217 yards and 18 touchdowns in two years.

Ford signed with the Bills and played with the team in training camp. He ended up on the practice squad, from which he was promoted in mid-December during the aforementioned injuries.

He had a decent, if unexciting debut season in NFL. Ford led the team with 33 yards on seven carries in his first game, a loss to the New England Patriots. He avoided major mistakes in 2018, but his longest play from scrimmage was 11 yards. Ford will turn 25 before beginning his second season in the league.

Taiwan Jones

2018 stats: 5 tackles

Buffalo’s special-teams captain is a free agent this year. The running back didn’t receive any offensive touches before he hit injured reserve with a neck injury.

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