The Buffalo Bills made multiple additions on offense during the 2019 offseason. All of those upgrades were made with one goal in mind: ensuring that second-year quarterback Josh Allen can take the next step in his development, ultimately allowing him to become the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.
With all of the new additions, it’s easy to lose track of the players who return from 2018, when Buffalo’s offense struggled to the tune of a 30th-ranked finish in both total yards and points per game. Can the team take that next step? Will the players who return be able to play better in a second year with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll?
Today’s installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series gives us the chance to discuss one of the team’s more polarizing returners, a future Hall of Fame running back whose career is entering its twilight.
Name: LeSean McCoy
Height/Weight: 5’11” 210 lbs.
Age: 30 (31 on 7/12/19)
Experience/Draft: 10; selected in the second round (53 overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles
Acquired: Traded to the Bills on 3/10/15 for linebacker Kiko Alonso
Financial situation (per Spotrac): McCoy enters the final year of his five-year contract that he signed after the Bills acquired him. That deal was worth a total of $40 million. In 2019, McCoy carries a cap hit of $9,050,000, which is the fourth-highest number on Buffalo’s roster. If the team were to trade or release him, McCoy would count $2,625,000 in dead cap.
2018 Recap: By any measure, last season was the worst of McCoy’s career. In 14 games, 13 of which were starts, McCoy carried the ball 161 times for 514 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 34 receptions for 238 yards. McCoy’s yardage total was the lowest of his career, as was his yards-per-carry average (3.2), which broke the previous career-low of 4 yards per carry set in 2017. It was the first year since 2014 that McCoy hadn’t notched a receiving touchdown, and his 238 yards receiving was also his lowest number since that 2014 season. His 38 receptions was his lowest single-season total since 2015.
Positional outlook: McCoy is joined by fellow veteran Frank Gore this season, as well as 25-year-old free-agent pickup T.J. Yeldon. The Bills also added Devin Singletary in the third round of the 2019 Draft. Senorise Perry signed as a free agent, as well, but he figures to contribute only on special teams if he makes the roster. Holdover Marcus Murphy and international signee Christian Wade round out the running-back group.
2019 Offseason: Other than spoiling Hollywood blockbusters and announcing charity events, the offseason has been an uneventful one for McCoy.
2019 Season outlook: I won’t be surprised by any decision the Bills make regarding McCoy this season. If the team decides to keep him and start him, limiting his reps while working in Gore and Singletary throughout the season, I’ll hope that it allows him to show at least some of his dominant form from years past. If the team decides to move on by releasing or trading him, I’ll wish him well and hope that he regains his form in any game where the Bills aren’t his opponent. If it were me making the decisions, I’d move on—at best, McCoy probably only has one good year remaining, and the team clearly isn’t re-signing him when his contract comes up at the end of the season. Buffalo can roll a hefty chunk of change into next year’s salary cap by releasing McCoy, and a running-back room of Gore, Singletary, and Yeldon is a fine grouping. I’d rather move on from a player one year too soon than one year too late, and after last year’s performance, I fear that the Bills are already one year too late. Yes, the offensive line was bad, but nothing about McCoy’s performance last year gives me hope that he will rebound this year. Yes, Gore is significantly older than McCoy, but he also had a significantly better 2018 season than McCoy did. Shady’s status will be one of the more interesting storylines to follow in the lead-up to the 2019 season.