2019 Buffalo Bills Roster Outlook: The running backs

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Buffalo Bills
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Sign a free agent

Buffalo will have one largest amounts of money to spend this offseason as they are currently projected for nearly $90 million in cap space. With that sort of flexibility, the team can make not just one big move, but multiple.

One of those big moves, however, should not be at the running back position.

Spending big on running backs is almost never a good idea. Just because you spend more money on a running back doesn’t mean you will see an increase in production. The variables such as a good offensive line (the Bills don’t have one), a good passing game (the Bills don’t have one), and the ability to scheme a good running game (time will tell) are all important to having a successful run game.

For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to put three different types of running backs in their backfield over the past two seasons and generate an extremely high level of production.

They were without star running back Le’Veon Bell for all of 2018 and in turn made James Conner a Pro Bowler. In his three-game absence at the back-end of this season, 2018 fifth-round pick Jaylen Samuels rushed for 223 yards, caught 12 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The point is that you do not need to spend big or draft high to get a big-time running back.

With the extensive amount of cap space the Bills have, I would not spend big on a running back at all. Bell and Tevin Coleman are wonderful players and extremely talented, but the Bills are not there yet. There are bigger needs on the offense right now and tying up big money into a running back, especially when you can get ones for cheap and garnish solid production.

Players such as Mark Ingram (New Orleans), Mike Davis (Seattle), Latavius Murray (Minnesota), T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville) and Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia) are several of the names Bills should target in free agency.

Ingram and Murray are the oldest of the bunch at 29 and 28 respectively, but both have split carries over the past several seasons and could have two or three years of solid football left in them. They are both reliable veteran options.

Davis, Yeldon and Ajayi are all coming off of their rookie deals and are age 25. These three are the ones who could be low-cost, high-reward options for the Bills.

Davis is a former fourth-round pick that is behind several talented backs in Seattle. Ajayi is coming off an ACL tear that ended his 2018 season early but he had decent production in his first few years in the league with Miami and Philadelphia.

The most intriguing player to me is Yeldon. A former second-round pick, Yeldon had his best rushing season as a rookie by playing and starting 12 games, running for 740 yards and two touchdowns.

He has since taken a back seat to Leonard Fournette, but Yeldon has been an extremely valuable receiver out of the backfield. He has a career high 487 yards receiving and four touchdowns this season. In six games this season, Yeldon has tallied five or more catches. His abilities as a receiver out of the backfield could be a useful weapon for Buffalo if they choose to sign him.

Regardless of who the team signs, it is clear they need to sign someone. The backfield needs help and there are several options for the Bills to explore in free agency.