With the deadline for roster bonuses only a few weeks away, the Buffalo Bills will have to think long and hard with what to do with running back LeSean McCoy.
There is no denying that Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is one of the most versatile backs in the NFL today. His shiftiness, speed, and pass-catching capabilities make him one of the hardest players to defend in the league.
But while the running back position has been phasing out of the NFL recently with the focus more on quarterback play, McCoy’s contract and role with the team are coming further and further under the microscope.
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As NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal noted on Wednesday, the Bills could save $6.25 million in releasing McCoy before the June 1 roster bonus deadline, which would also free up $6 million for signing critical free agents elsewhere (see: defense). And while Buffalo cutting McCoy would likely be a shock to NFL fans, it’s not exactly far-fetched.
The Bills have an excellent offensive line which ranked fourth in the NFL last year by Pro Football Focus, with an 82.2 rating. What’s more, all of their starters are returning for the 2017 season. The Bills also have an extremely capable—and explosive—running back behind McCoy in Mike Gillislee.
However, Gillislee is a restricted free agent this offseason. So if the Bills wanted to keep an explosive running attack, they would be wise to re-sign Gillislee to a mid-level running back contract. Given that Gillislee was a change of pace back most of last season, he isn’t expected to command top dollar like McCoy already has.
If the Bills release McCoy and sign Gillislee to, say, half of the cap hit that McCoy would bring, Buffalo still has roughly $3 million left to sign free agents in areas where the concern is highest. Specifically, that’s hardly any flexibility to address the secondary, which was, like the rest of the Bills defense, shockingly below average in 2016 (ranked 24th by PFF).