Last season, the Buffalo Bills’ leading rusher was a rookie for the second year in a row. At least it was a running back this time, though, as the team’s 2018 rushing leader was quarterback Josh Allen.
Heading into the 2019 season, the team badly needed an infusion of youth at the running back position. After fielding a roster topped by 30-somethings at a position dominated by young players, Buffalo has swung in the complete opposite direction this year. The oldest running back on the current depth chart is Taiwan Jones, whose role is on special teams and not the offense.
In today’s installment of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile the man who figures to be the focal point of Buffalo’s rushing attack in 2020 and beyond.
Name: Devin Singletary
Height/Weight: 5’7”, 203 lbs.
Age: 22 (23 on 9/3/2020)
Experience/Draft: 1; selected in the third round (No. 74 overall) by Buffalo in the 2019 NFL Draft
Acquired: Third-round draft choice by Buffalo
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Singletary enters the second year of his rookie contract, a four-year pact that totals $3.898 million. For the 2020 season, Singletary carries a salary-cap charge of $933,956, and if the team decides to part ways with him for some reason, they would be on the hook for a $776,868 dead-cap charge.
2019 Recap: Singletary’s usage early on in his rookie year was a point of frustration for many fans, as he proved to be a dynamic threat right from his first action. In Buffalo’s first two games, Singletary had ten carries for 127 yards and one touchdown, adding five catches for 28 yards to his ledger. In that second game, a 28-14 win over the New York Giants, Singletary pulled his hamstring, which caused him to miss the next three games. Singletary returned in Week 7 and only had ten carries for 45 yards, adding four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown, over the team’s next two games. After the Bills were trounced by the Philadelphia Eagles in a 31-13 loss, Singletary took over as the team’s lead back. From that point on in the season, he outpaced veteran Frank Gore in carries (131 to 91), yards (603 to 266), and snaps (401 to 163). That trend continued in Buffalo’s Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans, as Singletary played 76% of the offensive snaps, carrying 13 times for 58 yards, adding six catches for 76 yards on seven targets in the passing game. For the season, Singletary carried the ball 151 times, second to Gore (166), for a total of 775 yards and two touchdowns. Singletary also caught 29 passes, third-most on the team, for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Positional outlook: With Gore gone, Singletary is the clear leader among the running backs in terms of expected workload. The Bills drafted Zack Moss in the third round this season to bolster depth, where they also have veteran T.J. Yeldon, special teams ace Taiwan Jones, ex-rugby player Christian Wade, and undrafted rookie Antonio Williams competing for roster spots.
2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report, though Singletary did meet up with plenty of his teammates in Florida for a workout.
2020 Season outlook: The question isn’t whether Singletary can or will be successful—he proved himself beyond a doubt last year—but how many opportunities he’ll receive this year. Will the team split carries between Singletary and Moss to the point where Singletary won’t produce “huge” numbers? Will Yeldon get on the field for passing downs? Does the coaching staff view Singletary as a “workhorse” or as a rotational player? Even if they do view him as someone capable of the “workhorse” title, do they want him to do it? What we do know is this: Singletary is a dynamic player on an offense that has plenty of them. If he sees a snap share similar to what he saw in the latter half of his rookie year, where he played at least two-thirds of the snaps from Week 8 onward, then I’d expect that he’ll clock in somewhere around 1,500 yards from scrimmage this year. Especially if the team operates out of more “11” personnel, which it should given the strength of the roster, it will give Singletary plenty of room to run, just like another former Buffalo running back who was pretty darn good. I think Singletary is a star-in-waiting, and I expect 2020 to be his coming-out party.