March 10th, 2015. A day that will forever go down as one of the most surprising and exhilarating days in Buffalo Bills fandom. Just short of two months after hiring new head coach Rex Ryan, the Bills acquired All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Buffalo rejoiced, once McCoy signed a brand-new five-year deal, he rejoiced as well. He would become a prominent figure in the backfield on the Buffalo Bills for the next four seasons. Heading into the final year of his deal, have we seen the last of LeSean McCoy in a Bills uniform after a sub-par 2018 season? McCoy compiled only 514 total yards to go along with career-low 3 touchdowns in 2018.
In an interview with ESPN’s First Take, McCoy talked about his down season relating to the losses of Richie Incognito, Cordy Glenn, and Eric Wood as well as having four different quarterbacks under center this season (Derek Anderson, Nathan Peterman, Matt Barkley, and Josh Allen). “I’ll bounce back, I always do.” But will he be bouncing back in a Bills uniform next season? I believe there is a legitimate chance that answer is no.
As for his contract McCoy is due to have a $9.065 million cap hit for the 2019 season. If cut, he would leave behind $2.625 million in deap cap, something that general manager Brandon Beane has worked tirelessly to rid the franchise of (see Marcell Dareus). This is significantly less however, than the $11.575 million dollars in dead cap that would have been left had he been cut last season. This leads me to my next reason McCoy could be traded or cut from the Buffalo Bills in before this season, the 2019 NFL draft eligible running backs.
There is a legitimate chance the Bills are going to draft a running back at some point in the 2019 NFL draft, most likely coming in rounds three through six. According to CBS Sports, the running backs who could be in this range for the Bills would include the likes of Devin Singletary (FAU), Miles Sanders (Penn-State), Elijah Holyfield (Georgia), and Benny Snell (Kentucky). This provides options for the Bills in the lower rounds to pick up a young running back to fill a possible void left by McCoy at a more team-friendly price.
The Bills could couple their drafting of a young running back with using options already on the roster for 2019. Names like Marcus Murphy, Keith Ford, and if re-signed Chris Ivory could all play a big role in the Bills 2019 backfield.
Although it could be a slippery slope, the Bills could also look to free-agent names to fill the running back position in the form of names like: Jay Ajayi, CJ Anderson, Alfred Blue, or Mike Davis. With an estimated $80 million in cap room according to spotrac.com, the Bills could go for the bigger fish of the free-agent market with the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Mark Ingram set to hit the market.
We may not see a move until training camp, but if LeSean McCoy seems to be on the road to another subpar season in 2019, the Bills should explore the option of a trade or release of McCoy. The excitement and intrigue of March 10th, 2015 surrounding McCoy has now turned to doubt and uncertainty heading into the 2019 season. Brandon Beane has been known to shake things up, and this shakeup would send shockwaves through the Bills backfield in 2019.