The Buffalo Bills have few areas of concern on offense through one week, but the lack of depth at running back could eventually be an issue that needs to be addressed, one insider says.
The Bills lost two fumbles from running backs in their season-opening win over the Los Angeles Rams, and the most effective ball-carrier was quarterback Josh Allen. If the team decides to look outside the organization for help at running back, a former Pro Bowler stuck at No. 2 in Cleveland could be a target.
Bills Could Target Browns Pro Bowler
In a recent mailbag, a fan asked Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski whether the Bills would consider trading for one of the pending free-agent running backs, including the Browns’ Kareem Hunt.
While Buffalo’s lead running back, Devin Singletary, had an efficient performance in the team’s 31-10 win over the Rams, the other running backs struggled. Rookie James Cook fumbled on his first career carry, and played just two more snaps the rest of the game. Third-year back Zack Moss had six carries for just 15 yards, and added a late fumble as a cap on the forgettable performance.
Hunt could offer a boost to the Bills. Though he appeared in only eight games last season for the Browns, he had a career-best 4.9 yards-per-carry average and five touchdowns. He has gotten off to a fast start in 2022, rushing for one touchdown and catching another in the team’s win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.
Skurski noted that trading for Hunt is an idea the Bills could monitor but likely wouldn’t explore in more depth until later into the season.
“Any move like that would be made a lot closer to the trade deadline. That’s not a bad thing,” Skurski wrote. “The Bills will get a better feel for what they have in Cook in the weeks ahead. As for Moss, he did have a strong preseason. Let’s not totally write him off after one game with subpar production.”
He noted that the Browns would need to learn more about their team, and if they remain in the playoff picture then a trade would not be likely. But if the Browns fall out of playoff contention, they could look to squeeze some value out of Hunt before he potentially leaves in free agency.
Bills Still Have Faith in Cook
Cook’s The Bills have shown no signs of panic with their rookie running back after his difficult debut. After the game, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said the team wanted Cook to get a chance to recover from the fumble and hope it will serve as a learning experience. Cook is expected to play an important role in the offense this season and is considered the most talented pass-catcher in the backfield.
“We try and allow the player to reset and then get back out there,” McDermott said, via the Buffalo News. “I thought (running backs) coach (Kelly) Skipper did a good job with allowing that time to take place. Then James was back out there for a couple … plays, I think, through the rest of the game. So I think that’s better than a player having to not go back out there and then sleep on it and not having a chance to kind of make up for the mistake, if you will. I think that’s something he’ll learn from and he needs to learn from. We can do a better job with it overall, as a team, as well.”
Cook is not alone in losing a fumble in his first career game. A number of other prominent running backs also coughed up the ball in their NFL debuts, including Hunt in 2017.