The Buffalo Bills didn’t run the ball well in 2021. Or maybe they didn’t run the ball enough. Or maybe we shouldn’t even talk about the running game in a modern NFL offense. Whatever opinion you hold, the Bills didn’t seem to be thrilled with the production level from their running backs, as they tinkered with the running back snaps throughout the season.
When they did settle on a clear “top dog” at running back, it wasn’t the player who had ended the 2020 season looking like he would be that guy. Instead, it was the player who began at the top all along. Confused? Yeah, we were too for a bit. Now that the dust has settled and the pecking order seems to be clear, we’re left to wonder exactly what will become of some of Buffalo’s running backs.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss a third-year man who went from change-of-pace to potential RB1 to potential surprise cut in the course of a calendar year.
Name: Zack Moss
Height/Weight: 5’9” 205 lbs
Age: 24 (25 on 12/15/2022)
Experience/Draft: 3; selected in the third round (No. 86 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft by Buffalo
Acquired: Third-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Moss is in the third year of his four-year rookie contract. That deal is worth $4,312,616 overall. For the 2022 season, Moss carries a cap hit of $1,237,354, and Buffalo would be charged a dead-cap hit of $457,208 if he were to be released or traded.
2021 Recap: Moss was a healthy scratch in the season opener, but he then rattled off a five-game streak where he saw the majority of the snaps at running back, as well as the majority of the touches. In games two through seven, Moss played over half the snaps on offense each week. Devin Singletary only hit that mark once. Moss had 62 carries and 16 receptions over that span, totaling 375 yards and four touchdowns. Singletary had 59 carries and 11 receptions for a total of 298 yards and one touchdown. From that point on, though, Moss’s snap count dropped precipitously, as the team worked Matt Breida in more frequently in an attempt to generate a spark. Eventually, Singletary became the workhorse, and Moss was inactive three more times and his usage dropped (34 carries, seven receptions, 167 total yards over the team’s last ten games). For the year, Moss finished with 96 carries for 345 yards (3.59 YPC) and four touchdowns, adding 23 receptions on 32 targets for 197 yards and a touchdown.
Positional outlook: Moss is once again joined by Singletary, Taiwan Jones, and fullback Reggie Gilliam, but the team added three new faces in veteran Duke Johnson, second-round pick James Cook, and undrafted rookie free agent Raheem Blackshear.
2022 Offseason: Moss is healthy and he participated throughout the offseason. He practiced in Sunday’s first training camp session, as well. He ran with the second team, coming in after Singletary and ahead of Cook.
2022 Season outlook: Moss could literally be anywhere and it wouldn’t surprise me much. He could be active on game days doing short-yardage work as head coach Sean McDermott continues to insist that Moss’s “three yards and a cloud of dust” style is good inside the 20-yard line. He could make the team but be the “T.J. Yeldon honorary player who isn’t active on game days” at the running back position. He could be flat-out released or traded for a conditional late draft pick. And who knows, maybe he even comes back to reclaim a shot at being the lead back as he was heading into the 2020 NFL Playoffs before a broken ankle suffered against the Indianapolis Colts ended his season. It was as recent as Week 7 of last year that he had the opportunity to do just that.
If it were me, I’m not sure that I’d even hang on to Moss, as he lacks the true receiving ability of Cook and Johnson—and he doesn’t do anything that Singletary doesn’t already do better than him. Of the players I have on my 53-man roster, Moss is the one I would be least surprised about seeing as a “surprise” cut, if that makes sense.