Next up on our Bills’ free agency roundup series are backup running backs Taiwan Jones and T.J. Yeldon. This season, Jones served primarily as a special teams player and only played on offense in a handful of games. Yeldon, on the other hand, was more often than not a healthy scratch and only saw a significant increase in his playing time when Zach Moss was injured.
From a contract standpoint, I do not see either running back asking for much. Both Jones and Yeldon are average at best, with not a whole lot of upside. I see them seeking one-year deals in the one to four million range.
Although they may not ask for much, it doesn’t really make sense for the Bills to re-sign either player for one simple reason: cap space. Unlike past seasons, the Bills do not have the spending money to be dominant players in free agency. Not only will Buffalo have difficulty signing their stars or players like Aaron Jones or Hunter Henry to fill existing needs, but they also may not even be able to re-sign reserve players like these two.
However, we never really saw either of them on the field unless other players weren’t available. Again, Yeldon only played in three of the five games in which he was listed as active. His most productive outing was against the Tennessee Titans, where Josh Allen threw a beautiful pass that only a Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver would drop.
As for Jones, his only offensive production was incredibly spotty. He dropped two wide-open touchdowns, one against Tennessee and the other against New England (which would have been much worse had the Bills not stomped the Pats by a 38-3 margin).
To make matters worse (for Jones and Yeldon, anyway), the Bills already have three younger, more versatile, and more trustworthy running backs on the roster in Devin Singletary, Zach Moss, and Antonio Williams, who are all still on rookie contracts. Along with that, the Bills may intend to add another name to that room through free agency or the draft.
Listen, I am not a “Negative Nancy”, and I would like to give kudos to both backs. When Yeldon wasn’t a healthy scratch and actually played, he was pretty good at picking up extra yardage. Jones has played a key role on special teams during his three seasons in Buffalo, and the Bills probably wouldn’t have scored their lone touchdown against the Chiefs if he didn’t recover that muffed punt. Plus, he may be one of the toughest players to ever suit up in the Bills locker room, especially after that hit he took Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers in 2018.
In any other year, I would be okay with spending a few extra bucks to bring some depth back to the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jones is brought back to help contribute to special teams on a veteran minimum deal ($1.03 million, roughly). But in a year where the Bills have so little money to spread around, smart, limited spending is the name of the game. With that in mind…
T.J. Yeldon Stay or Go: Go
Taiwan Jones Stay or Go: Go
Don’t be surprised if both of them find work elsewhere. Their veteran presence will definitely help teams with more money to spend.
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