The Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane spoke to the media following a flurry of free agency on Friday, March 18. While there were plenty of exciting topics to discuss, such as the surprise singing of eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller, Beane had to address the other surprise announcement concerning running back J.D. McKissic.
On March 15, McKissic agreed to sign a two-year, $7 million contract with Buffalo, a move that was praised by analysts across the league. NBC Sports Washington reporter Pete Hailey tweeted, “The Bills are going to be even scarier with McKissic on that offense. Devin Singletary led that group with 40 receptions in 2021. McKissic will take over the pass-catching RB role there and own it. He’s a stud.”
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One day later, ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that the deal was off. Schefter tweeted, “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.”
Beane made it clear during his press conference on Friday that this sudden reversal did not stem from McKissic’s agents trying to swindle a deal, and squarely placed the blame on the Washington Commanders.
“That was tough. Obviously, he was a guy we targeted. 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.”
When asked if this kind of about-face can hurt agent relationships moving forward, Beane nodded his head. But in this case, Beane said Hendrickson and LaBoy did nothing wrong.
“Yeah, I have had it before where the agent has agreed with you on something and then someone else calls and says ‘Hey, what if I add a million dollars or what if I do this or guarantee this… Once you have an agreement, the agent is supposed to say, ‘It’s over.’ And this agent did that. And this agent told the other club ‘It’s over.’ But the other club didn’t back off.”
Schefter Said McKissic Had a ‘Change of Heart’
While Beane’s statement sheds a lot of light on how McKissic’s deal with Buffalo disintegrated when the news was initially reported on Thursday, March 17, Schefter reported that the 28-year-old running back had changed his mind.
The NFL Insider tweeted, “Background on the change of heart: Washington initially didn’t offer J.D. McKissic a deal – until he agreed to one in Buffalo, per his agents Doug Hendrickson and CJ LaBoy. Once McKissic heard Washington was willing to match the offer, he didn’t want to leave.”
Schefter’s report tracked since back in January, McKissic received a glowing review from Washington’s running backs coach Randy Jordan. “To me, he’s probably one of the best pass-catching running backs, or I would just say football players, off of the catch and transitioning,” Jordan told The Washington Post‘s Nicki Jhabvala. “You throw a ball out to him, and it’s a simple little smoke route, and he’s able to catch it and turn and get you five or six [yards] before you even know it.”
In that same article, the dual-threat running back commented on his impending free agency. “Definitely, I want to stay. Everybody knows that,” Mckissic said, and “the feeling is believed to be mutual,” Jhabvala wrote.
Mckissic’s Commanders’ Teammates & Washington Fans Were Thrilled to Have Him Back
While Buffalo will eventually find a replacement for the role they wanted McKissic to take over, and Beane is hurt by how the deal was blown up, there is one group of people that are incredibly he’s returning to Washington: Commanders players and fans.
It’s understandably baffling to many that McKissic would give up the opportunity to play with superstar quarterback Josh Allen and the team with the highest odds of winning Super Bowl 57, but it appears that it wasn’t until after Buffalo made him an offer that Washington realized the Arkansas State alum’s value and refused to let him go.