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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: RB Darrynton Evans

Buffalo’s newest running back has a shot to stick on the roster in a niche role

NFL: Chicago Bears at New York Jets Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills thought they had their running back room all figured out. They signed a bruiser to go with their shifty young dual-threat back. They added a veteran who can gain tough yards in short-yardage situations and add value in the passing game. They had a great receiving back who also returned kicks, a player looking to earn a bigger role after they acquired him at last year’s trade deadline.

Then, of course, bad injury luck struck. The Bills lost that return specialist to a freak injury, leading to a need at the position heading into training camp. Rather than signing a big-ticket, big-name player, the Bills opted for a young runner looking to prove his value in the NFL after three injury-plagued seasons.

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we hop right to it and profile Buffalo’s newest addition — an athletic running back with long odds to make the roster.

Name: Darrynton Evans

Number: 37

Position: RB

Height/Weight: 5’10”, 203 pounds

Age: 25 (26 on 7/9/2024)

Experience/Draft: 4; selected by the Tennessee Titans in the third round (No. 93 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft

College: Appalachian State

Acquired: Signed with Bills on 7/25/2023

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Evans signed a one-year contract for $940,000 just a day prior to the opening of training camp. There are no guarantees announced on the contract at present, though there may be some that we learn about later. His cap number is the value of the contract, and unless there are guarantees we don’t know about, Buffalo can release him prior to Week 1 with no dead-cap charge.

2022 Recap: Evans spent the 2022 season as a member of the Chicago Bears, and he was used sparingly with the club. He only played in six games, making an appearance on just 49 offensive snaps. He carried the ball 14 times for 64 yards in those six games, adding one reception that he took for 33 yards. He played in Chicago’s loss to the Bills, but he only played on special teams. He had more special teams snaps (63) than he did on offense.

Positional outlook: Evans replaces Nyheim Hines on the active roster, as Hines suffered a season-ending injury in a freak accident prior to the start of training camp. Evans joins James Cook, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray, and Jordan Mims as the full-fledged running backs on the roster. Reggie Gilliam, a fullback, is the other “back” on the squad.

2023 Offseason: Evans was initially signed by the Indianapolis Colts in March, but he was released by the club at the beginning of May. He is healthy and ready for camp.

2023 Season outlook: Evans has spent much of his time in the NFL injured, having dealt with a slew of injuries to his legs that have seen him go on Injured Reserve three times in his career. With the Titans in 2020 and 2021, he dealt with hamstring issues and knee issues — and fumbling issues — that limited his chances. There was also the issue of playing behind a generational running back in Derrick Henry. A fresh start in Chicago with the Bears didn’t provide any additional opportunity.

Evans’ best shot at a roster spot would be as a kickoff returner, a role he hasn’t performed in since 2021. For his professional career, Evans has returned 10 kickoffs at an average of 22.3 yards per return. He has never returned punts at either the NFL or NCAA level, but if he can do that in camp with the Bills in addition to continuing his role on kick coverage teams, he could lock down a roster spot (note: it’s been tweeted by some in attendance at training camp that Evans is among a group receiving punts on day one). However, it’s more likely that he’s a placeholder to give a veteran like Latavius Murray some rest during camp. Evans has some great raw athletic traits, but expecting much more than replacement-level results will likely lead to disappointment.