The Buffalo Bills signed 36-year-old Frank Gore to their aging backfield a year ago, and the team boasted the oldest running back room in the league by a long shot. Head coach Sean McDermott made fun of it from the league’s owners’ meetings. When the smoke cleared, the oldest was the one left standing.
Gone were Chris Ivory, who was released a couple weeks after the signing of Gore. Gone was LeSean McCoy, jettisoned at the end of training camp. Now Gore was the lead back, mentoring a third-round rookie in Devin Singletary and young veteran T.J. Yeldon. That wasn’t the only role he had.
With a second-year quarterback and brand-new-everything around the entire offense, Gore was a stabilizing veteran presence. He’s been there, done that in every scenario. He was McDermott’s leader on the field and in the meeting room.
The season started well, with the high-water mark being a 100-yard game against the New England Patriots where he averaged 6.41 yards per carry in Week 4 with Singletary out due to injury.
As the 2019 season wore on, Gore struggled to gain tough yards down the stretch. On Thanksgiving, he averaged 1.22 yards per carry. The next week it was 1.5 yards per carry against the Baltimore Ravens and the following week, 1.5 yards per carry against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He didn’t receive a carry the next week against New England, playing only two snaps. He ran eight times in the Wild Card game for 22 yards.
Now Gore enters free agency set to turn 37 this offseason. Clearly he’s not the back he once was, but is he good enough to bring back to the Bills? Is his role big enough as the savvy veteran?
Buffalo has a leadership void with the losses of Eric Wood, Kyle Williams, and Lorenzo Alexander over the last three offseasons. Gore could be that guy in the locker room, but folks aren’t looking to the vet, they are looking at third-year quarterback Josh Allen. Allen is the go-to guy for comments as the leader of the offense. Left tackle Dion Dawkins is the quote machine. You WANT those two young leaders to step up, which might not be wholly possible with the very well-respected Gore in the room.
If Gore wants to play another season, it’s probably best that he does it somewhere else in 2020. Find a young team that needs stabilization at running back and be that rock.
It’s not fair to Gore to re-sign him just to be an offseason presence. No one wants to see him as a training camp body who gets cut at the beginning of September or as a game day inactive who barely makes the team. With the Bills in need of more pop from their number-two running-back position, it’s unfair to expect that from Gore at 37.
Ultimately, all signs point to Gore being somewhere else in 2020.
- All-22 review shows Frank Gore was better than his YPC average might indicate
- Contract projection for 37-year-old Frank Gore looks familiar
- In-house replacement options for Frank Gore
- Free agent options at running back are plentiful
- 2020 NFL Draft has power-back options
- Opinion: Gore brings more than just 3.6 yards per carry
- State of the Bills Roster: RBs Motor-ing toward 2020