INDIANAPOLIS – The only need for the Buffalo Bills at running back is behind starter LeSean McCoy.
That was the message Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine from both General Manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott.
“I expect him back and he’ll be a big part of what we’re doing in 2018,” Beane said.
McCoy, who will be 30 at the start of the 2018 season, has a base salary of $6.075 million for the upcoming year, with a salary cap hit of $8.95 million. That combination of age and compensation can sometimes spell trouble for running backs, but the Bills don’t share those concerns regarding McCoy.
“Salary aside, I don't look at that,” McDermott said. “Right now I look at production. He has not slowed down. He played all 16 games plus a playoff game for us and really gritted it out through that playoff game. The toughness element was there and the leadership. It's been fun to be around LeSean, having been around him early in his career, early in my career, now once again for both of us in Buffalo. He's a big part of the culture that we've begun to build in Buffalo.”
McCoy surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards during the 2017 season and made the Pro Bowl for the sixth time, including all three years in Buffalo. He finished fourth in the NFL with 1,138 rushing yards.
"You've got to be able to run the football," Beane said." The league has obviously become more of a passing league than what we grew up watching. But you still have to be able to run the ball on third and 1, fourth and 1, what we call 4-minute football to close out games. It's important."
McCoy suffered a sprained ankle in Week 17 against Miami, and despite being limited in practice leading up to the wild-card playoff game against Jacksonville, took a regular workload against the Jaguars.
“I give him a lot of credit to play in the Jacksonville game with the injury,” Beane said. “That shows how competitive he is. He's healthy. He's ready to go.”
The Bills recently hosted former Jaguars running back Chris Ivory on a free-agent visit as they look for options behind McCoy. Mike Tolbert, who spent the bulk of 2017 as the No. 2 running back, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts March 14.
“"It is an important part of our roster, much like some other positions,” McDermott said. “You saw we had Chris in there, so it's a position we have our eye on. We've got also Marcus Murphy in there, as well as (Aaron) Green in there. We have some guys in there that we still feel good about, but we're going to look to improve at every position.”