The Buffalo Bills tried to pull off what would have been one of the biggest trades this offseason but were reportedly rebuffed in their attempts to bolster the backfield.
As NFL insider Adam Caplan reported, the Bills looked into a trade for All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey but were told by the Carolina Panthers that he wasn’t available. The Bills had been linked to McCaffrey earlier this offseason, and apparently tried making a run at him. With McCaffrey out of their grasp, the Bills have taken some other efforts to boost their inconsistent running game and add more receiving firepower out of the backfield.
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Bills Tried to Land McCaffrey
As Caplan reported, Bills general manager Brandon Beane made at least some effort to look into a trade for McCaffrey, but it doesn’t appear the talks grew serious at all. While he didn’t address McCaffrey specifically, Beane said this offseason that the Bills need to add more players who can rack up yards after the catch and turn small gains into big ones.
“You’d love to have a RAC (run-after-catch) guy that you can get the ball to and he can turn a 5-yard pass into a 60-yard touchdown,” Beane said, via The Athletic. “We talked about speed here. You can never have enough of that. So we’ll continue to look for various ways.”
Beane has been known to inquire on big-name players, even if there is little chance of landing him. Back when the Bills tried to trade for then-Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown only to have Brown reportedly nix the deal, Beane said the team will always look into good players.
“Listen, he’s on another team but here’s what I’ll say is good players like that you always do your due diligence,” Beane said at the time, via NewYorkUpstate.com. “You know I’ve made moves before. If there’s an opportunity at any position to make a move that we think is a good fit for us, we’ll do it.”
McCaffrey would add a versatile threat to the Bills offense, though he has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, appearing in only 10 total games since his breakout season in 2019 where he topped 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.
Bills Land Another Talented Running Back
The Bills did address their backfield in the NFL Draft, taking Georgia running back James Cook with their second-round pick. After the selection, Beane said he brings some of the big-play ability that the team had been lacking out of the backfield.
“Sometimes you want that quick score or that chunk play,” Beane said, via ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg. “If you’re gonna pick on our offense a little bit, that’s probably one of the things you could pick on is some chunk plays, get it in somebody’s hand, a receiver, running back, tight end, whatever it is.”
As Getzenberg noted, the Bills ranked last in the NFL in yards after catch per reception last season (4.28) as well as percentage of receiving yards after the catch (39.9%). Much of that was due to Allen’s propensity for going deep, as the team ranked fourth in the NFL in air yards per target (8.44).