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Opinion: Bills need to swing big at RB or not swing at all

I don’t see the Bills doing a medium swing at running back this offseason

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have used two Day 2 picks on running backs over the last few seasons. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss haven’t lived up to that draft status yet, but Singletary made a move in the second half of the 2021 season and Moss didn’t take a single snap in the Divisional round game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

With their tiny contract and team control, it’s likely both will be on the squad in 2022, but what role they will play is the biggest question. Right now, Singletary is the lead back with Moss being the backup. They could roll with that, add depth running backs like Matt Breida and Antonio Williams as they did in 2021, and go from there. That would be a shallow attempt at shoring up the position, but you know what you have and it was somewhat effective.

The other option is a big swing. Without a slam dunk prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft and no workhorse-type available in free agency, if Buffalo wants to go this route they would need to do it via trade. The name being floated in most Bills circles is Saquon Barkley. The New York Giants want to shed some player salary as they rebuild, their GM was Brandon Beane’s assistant until a couple months ago so they are friendly, and Brian Daboll as their new head coach could be moving towards a pass-happy attack anyway. In short, Barkley could actually be on the trade block.

Barkley is entering the final year of his rookie contract at $7.2 million in salary, for which the Bills would be on the hook in a trade. There’s no dead money to the Giants if they trade him. It’s likely Barkley would want a contract extension from his new team, especially if it’s Buffalo. Spotrac estimates his value at $5.6 million per season on a four-year deal.

If the Bills are looking for a clear upgrade at running back, this is the type of move it’s going to take. Send one of the cheap running backs and a late-round pick to the Giants for Barkley. Both teams get what they want.

If Buffalo isn’t going to trade for Barkley, they should just fill the depth roles created by the departures of Breida and Williams. Either take a home run swing or lay down a base hit. They shouldn’t consider another in-between option like a third third-round pick in the NFL Draft.

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