Bills ‘Very Interested’ in Signing Lions Breakout RB: Report

Jamaal Williams

Getty Lions running back Jamaal Williams #30 celebrates a run against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 18, 2022.

The Buffalo Bills are in a tight spot heading into free agency, as they are approximately $20 million over the cap for the 2023 NFL season, however, that doesn’t mean they’ll be sitting dormant.

On Saturday, March 11, Go Long‘s Tyler Dunne reported that the Bills are “very interested” in signing Detroit Lions breakout running back, Jamaal Williams. While there’s “mutual interest” for him to stay in Detroit, the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets also have their eye on Williams, per Dunne.

“Bills are interesting,” Dunne tweeted. “They’ve spent a ton of draft capital at running back (Singletary, Moss, Cook) and traded for Nyheim Hines, who oddly wasn’t utilized. But they like Williams.”

The 27-year-old running back is coming off the best year of his career. During the 2022 NFL season, Williams rushed the ball 262 times for 1,066 yards and led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns. According to, Williams is projected to receive a two-year, $8.355 million contract.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said during his end-of-year press conference that they need to get “creative” in rebuilding and will “rework a few contracts” in order to land new talent. By restricting quarterback Josh Allen’s contract alone, they could free up over $20 million.

Bills Mafia was not opposed to the move. A popular fan account tweeted, “Do I want them to spend decent money on another RB… No. But can I see Williams being a fit in Buffalo? Yes,” while Cover 1 host Greg Thompsett wrote, “Jamaal Williams checks SO many boxes. Literally perfect locker room fit ✅ Perfect Complement to Cook/Hines ✅ Goal Line back to take wear off Allen ✅ Passes the vibe check with flying colors ✅.”

Adding Williams Could Be a Risk

Jamaal Williams

GettyLions running back Jamaal Williams rushes the ball against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023.

The former fourth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft spent the first four years of his career with the Green Bay Packers before signing a two-year contract with the Lions in 2021. Luckily for the BYU alum, his breakout year happened as he entered free agency — but whether that kind of production can be replicated is a gamble.

In 2021, William had 153 carries for 601 yards and three touchdowns, and during his final year with the Packers, he recorded 119 rushes for 505 yards and two touchdowns. SB Nation‘s James Dator listed Williams as the No. 4 top free agent entering the offseason, but called him “another typical, three-down back.”

“Williams won’t bring much in the passing game — but for teams looking for a more traditional back he’s an interesting prospect,” Dator wrote. “The risk is that last season is fool’s gold, and largely built off the system that was built in Detroit, rather than individual ability.”

However, Williams believes he can be more versatile. “I don’t want to be struck down to just running the ball,” Williams said last month, per the Lions website. “I want to get back to running routes. I want to get back to doing options. My last year in Green Bay I was really out there and was really feeling comfortable with my receiving. Once I got to Detroit I understood my role at the time, but I want to be more. Making sure my body is durable and more versatile.”

ESPN named Willams as the Lions’ best free agent signing since 2018, and his infectious personality quickly made him a fan favorite in Detroit.

The Bills are Expected to Draft an OL or WR in the First Round of the NFL Draft

The Bills are largely expected to select either an offensive lineman or wide receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, so it would make sense for the team to try and land a running back in free agency. Williams would be way cheaper than trying to sign Eagles’ pending free agent, Miles Sanders, and less complicated than snagging Bengals running Joe Mixon.

While speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that while he was happy with the run game toward the end of the season, there’s definitely room for improvement. “There was also some times when I felt like our quarterback got affected a little bit too early,” McDermott said. “So those are things that we have to continue to adjust and address moving forward.”

Relieving some of the pressure off Allen’s shoulders has to be a priority this offseason. While the Bills could look toward Nyheim Hines having a bigger role alongside James Cook, if the Bills let Devin Singletary walk in free agency, they will need to add a new running back to the mix.