The Buffalo Bills are one of the most highly sought-after destinations for free agency this offseason, so it came as a major surprise when running back J.D. McKissic suddenly backed out of his two-year, $7 million contract just one day after agreeing to the terms.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news on Wednesday, March 16. 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.”
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Schefter went on to explain the reasoning behind McKissic’s sudden exit. 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.”
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.
However, following the transaction to the Bills on Tuesday, Jhabvala tweeted, “Was told Washington did not make an offer to try to keep McKissic.” After McKissic announced his deal with Buffalo, it seems Washington also had a change of heart.
During the 2021 NFL season, McKissic appeared in 11 games with three starts in Washington, recording 609 yards from scrimmage, 212 yards rushing, 397 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Despite missing the final six games of the season, McKissic suffered a concussion in Week 12 that required him to be carted off the field, he was the Commanders’ second-leading receiver in 2021, per NBC Sports.
Commanders’ Fans Thanked Ron Rivera for Bringing McKissic Back
While working with quarterback Josh Allen on a team that has the highest odds of winning Super Bowl 57 seemed like an unbeatable deal, McKissic chose to remain loyal to Washington, even after they delayed offering him a deal.
Commanders fans were not happy after learning McKissic was initially moving on. On Tuesday, Commanders Football tweeted, “This is egregious, we can afford him and we chose not to. Offense was significantly better when he was on the field, and he made some heroic plays last season.
“Obviously Buffalo > Washington from a competitive standpoint, but if I’m a 28-year-old running back I’m chasing the bag. Can’t imagine he left much more money on the table just to go to Buffalo… The one thing is that statistically, Wentz doesn’t throw much to RBs, but still think we would’ve kept him since he blocks and can actually run b/t the tackles too. Maybe his medicals were bad. But on the surface, can’t see why you let him walk.”
After McKissic reversed course, Commanders Football thanked Washington’s head coach Ron Rivera.
Who Will the Bills Looks to Sign Now that McKissic Is Gone?
While signing Mckissic wasn’t the flashiest move in free agency, ESPN’s Field Yates tweeted, “This is a really, really smart signing for the Bills. McKissic will play a ton for them in passing situations or when they want to go up-tempo. Awesome as a pass catcher and in pass protection.”
Now, the Bills are back in the market to find a sufficient running back to work alongside Devin Singeltary, the team’s No. 1 rusher, and Zack Moss. While previous reports linked the Bills to a blockbuster deal landing Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers, those rumors seemed to have died down.
Numerous analysts believe Buffalo may ride with their core duo, and add a new running from the 2022 NFL Draft.