Following the Buffalo Bills’ disappointing end to what was expected to be a Super Bowl-or-bust type of season, the team must take a hard look at their long list of pending free agents and decide which players they can afford to keep.
One of the key Bills players on an expiring contract is running back Devin Singletary, whose rookie deal came to a close at the conclusion of the 2022 NFL season. But according to legendary Bills running back Fred Jackson, deciding what to do with Singletary is a no-brainer.
Jackson, who returned to Buffalo this weekend to promote his new partnership with Hidden Valley Ranch, spoke about the 25-year-old rusher in an exclusive interview with Heavy Sports. “I love what he brought to the table. I’d absolutely extend him,” Jackson said. “At least, give him an offer. Let him have the opportunity to decide what he’s going to do. But I loved him as a running back.”
“The thing I loved about him the most was how you didn’t hear from him complaining about his touches and things like that,” Jackson continued. “But when his number was called, he was ready. He produced at a high level. Obviously, this offense is going to go through Josh [Allen], he’s a tremendous quarterback, he’s an MVP candidate for a reason, but when you have a running back that continues to put in the work, and you get another running back drafted in James Cook, who you know is going to touch the ball, he continued to produce at a high level.”
The Bills’ third-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft emerged as the team’s No. 1 back this year, recording 177 carries for 819 yards and five rushing touchdowns during the regular season, earning a 75.9 overall rating from Pro Football Focus. During the Bills’ two postseason games, Singletary added another 16 rushes for 60 yards, along with five receptions for 38 yards.
As it stands, Buffalo needs to cut approximately $24 million in order to get under the salary cap for the 2023 NFL season. According to Spotrac.com, Singletary’s market value should earn him an average salary of $5.5 million.
Jackson Believes Singletary Could Easily Eclipes 1,000 Yards in a Season
The Bills run game has long been under scrutiny considering Allen, drafted in 2018, already ranks as the 11th leading rusher in franchise history with 3,087 career rushing yards, while Singletary ranks 10th with 3,151 yards.
The Bills haven’t had a running back hit 1,000 rushing yards in a season since LeSean McCoy in 2017, but Jackson, who remains the Bills’ third-leading rusher, he tallied 5,646 yards, along with 30 rushing and seven receiving touchdowns during his eight years in Buffalo, doesn’t see that as a huge issue considering the current makeup of the team.
“Obviously, if Singletary is getting his touches, he can get to 1,000 yards,” Jackson surmised. “I think he’s well capable of doing that. I think this team is a pass-oriented team, though, so that makes it hard,” especially when there’s a trio of backs.
The 41-year-old retired running back personally knows what it’s like fighting for touches. During his tenure with the Bills between 2006 and 2014, he shared a backfield with Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller.
“You know, I went over 1,000 yards one time in my career, and I think, obviously every year I played, if I got the touches that I did that year, I would’ve easily eclipsed 1,00 yards every time. And every year we were both close to 1,000 yards. If I take half of his carries, and he takes half of mine, we go over 1000 yards.”
Jackson Discusses the ‘Great Problem’ Regarding Nyheim Hines
One of the biggest criticisms toward Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was his inability to utilize running back Nyheim Hines after the Bills acquired him at the trade deadline. While his two punt-return touchdowns against the Patriots in Week 18 were incredible, he had a total of 13 touches on offense in 11 game appearances.
According to Jackson, the plethora of talent in the Bills backfield is “a great problem” to have, and getting Hines more involved is a “hard job” with so many playmakers on offense.
“I mean obviously when you get a guy like that you wanna see him get touches,” Jackson said of Hines. “You love what he did in the return game, when he gets the opportunity to touch the ball you saw what he was capable of doing. When you have explosive receivers and three different running backs and a quarterback that’s capable of making tremendous plays every time he has the ball in his hands. Obviously, the guys aren’t going to get the touches you want them to. But they produce when they get them.”