Almost exactly one year after his abrupt reversal, the Buffalo Bills could have another chance to snag the running back that got away.
Last offseason, the Bills appeared to sign free-agent running back J.D. McKissic, but he changed course before the deal was finalized and returned to the Washington Commanders. After a season cut short by injuries, the Commanders announced that they released McKissic.
Veteran Running Back Cut Loose
At the start of free agency last year, the Bills and McKissic came to an agreement on a two-year, $7 million deal that appeared to add a versatile weapon to Buffalo’s already explosive offense. But shortly after the agreement was reported, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the deal was suddenly off.
“RB J.D. McKissic – who intended to sign a two-year, $7 million deal with the Buffalo Bills – changed his mind and is instead returning to Washington for the same compensation, per sources,” Schefter reported.
The abrupt change didn’t sit well with Bills general manager Brandon Beane, who called out McKissic’s agent and the Commanders general manager.
“That was tough. Obviously, he was a guy we targeted,” Beane said. “You know, in this business in general, when you have an agreement, it’s good. But until there’s ink on the paper.. ya know his agent[s] did a great job. Doug Hendrickson and CJ LaBoy did a great job.
“There was some things that went down with other organization which was painful. But they chose to do what they did and I couldn’t stop it.”
McKissic, who had been with the Commanders since 2020, was hampered by injuries and appeared in only eight games last season. He rushed for 95 yards and added another 27 receptions for 173 yards.
The Bills struggled to establish a reliable running game, with Allen often leading the team in rushing. Beane has said he wants Allen to dial back on his running next season so he doesn’t take so much punishment.
“The only thing I’d get on to him is he’s got too many bruises on him,” Beane said, via the Democrat & Chronicle. “And we’ve got to work on taking less hits. That’s the only reason I’m going to ever criticize Josh is just take less hits.”
Bills Re-Sign One Running Back, Could Lose Another
The Bills ended up finding other running backs with versatile skill sets, drafting James Cook and trading for Nyheim Hines at last season’s trade deadline. Both could factor heavily into their offense next year, as Hines has agreed to return on a reduced salary while Cook could become the primary running back if free agent Devin Singletary should leave.
Some insiders believe the Bills will bring in more competition as well. In a recent mock draft, ESPN expert Todd McShay predicted that the Bills would use their first-round draft pick to land Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. McShay predicted that the Bills would lose Singletary in free agency, and Gibbs could be a strong complement to Hines and Cook.
“Gibbs’ vision and shiftiness are outstanding, as he can string together multiple cuts to find daylight,” McShay wrote. “The Bills could team him up with James Cook and Nyheim Hines to form a solid backfield and complement what quarterback Josh Allen does when he tucks and runs.”