On Tuesday, Ian Rapoport reported that the Buffalo Bills are expecting LeSean McCoy to miss time due to suspension. He went on to add that Buffalo will add a running back in free agency or the draft for that reason.
Behind McCoy, Buffalo has Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee, Anthony Dixon, and James Wilder Jr. under contract for 2016. Talent is there, so it's not as though Buffalo will draft a running back high or pursue an expensive free agent back.
Even mid-level free agents are probably off the table. James Starks, for example, is looking for a starting opportunity and he wouldn't find that in Buffalo. Realistically, the Bills will look to add a back who is content in a rotation. With that in mind, here are three potential running back targets for Buffalo.
Bilal Powell: Powell is probably the biggest "name" the Bills would pursue in free agency at running back. He has familiarity with Rex Ryan and the Bills were supposedly interested in signing Powell last year. The running back is coming off of a strong season where he rushed for 313 yards and added 388 yards receiving. Powell's 701 total yards came in 11 games last season.
If Powell is looking for a team where he could possibly be the lead back, Buffalo isn't for him. However, if Powell is looking for a team where he'd see playing time weekly, even when McCoy returns, he may find a new home with Buffalo.
Joique Bell: Bell never played in a regular season game with the Bills, but Buffalo signed the running back in 2010 after he went undrafted. Although Bell didn't make the team's 53-man roster in 2010, Buffalo added Bell to their practice squad. It didn't take long for the Eagles to sign Bell from Buffalo's practice squad.
Bell bounced around from team to team but eventually found a role with the Lions in 2012. In the last four seasons, Bell has rushed for 2,235 yards on 561 carries (4.0 YPC) and added 1,640 yards receiving over that time. Although his overall stats look impressive, Bell's YPC average has dropped yearly. In his first season, Bell averaged 5.0 YPC. In 2015, Bell only averaged 3.9 YPC.
On the free agent market, Bell won't be any team's No. 1 priority. If he goes unsigned through the first wave of free agent signings, Buffalo may move in with an offer.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw is still a pretty talented back when he's on the field. Unfortunately for Bradshaw, he's been placed on the injured reserve the last three seasons with various injuries. However, Buffalo isn't looking for a long term solution at the running back position. A short-term answer like Bradshaw could be a great fit for the Bills.
Although Bradshaw only averaged 2.7 YPC in 2015, the back was averaging over 4.6 YPC in his previous two seasons with the Colts.
Bradshaw can contribute as a runner, receiver and he's a very underrated blocker. Signing with the Bills could be a win-win for both parties. The Bills would add depth with McCoy out and Bradshaw could prove to 31 other teams that he can still contribute at a high level. Perhaps most importantly for Buffalo, Bradshaw won't command more than a veteran minimum salary in free agency.null