Buffalo Bills: The Good, The Bad and The Potential Ugly of the LeSean McCoy Trade


Buffalo Bills: The Good, The Bad and The Potential Ugly of the LeSean McCoy Trade

The Buffalo Bills made major news Tuesday when they acquired Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

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For Bills’ fans, The Legend of Kiko Alonso is short-lived. Less than two years after tackling just about everybody in the league, Alonso is on his way to the City of Brotherly Love to reunite with former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

In return, the Bills acquire LeSean McCoy, a dynamic runner who will certainly be the feature of Rex Ryan and Greg Roman’s “Ground and Pound” attack. While some believe that McCoy’s high mileage and large cap hit are a risk for the Bills, his consistent production speaks for itself.

Assuming the trade is finalized next week, here is a look at the good, the bad and the potential ugly of the Alonso-for-McCoy deal.

The Good:

At 26 years old, McCoy will inject a combination of youth and talent into the Bills’ backfield. With Fred Jackson turning 34 last month and C.J. Spiller not returning to Buffalo, McCoy gives the Bills an elite back to build around for the next couple of years.

Dec 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

After nearly accumulating 1,500 all-purpose yards last season, and eclipsing 2,100 all-purpose yards in 2013, he has proven that he can produce in the NFL. His explosive speed gives the Bills an electric playmaker that can hit a home run any time he touches the ball.

With his ability to make defenders miss, the Bills boundary receivers should benefit, as Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods will have a chance to wreak havoc on the perimeter. The teams play-action passing attack should receive a substantial boost as well, something offensive coordinator Greg Roman used frequently in San Francisco.

This trade also gives the Bills more draft flexibility. By addressing an aging position, the Bills will now be able to draft an offensive lineman or tight end with their second and third-round picks this year.

At 26 years old, McCoy still has three-to-four years of above average production left in him, which should bode well for the Bills.

The Bad:

The first negative that stands out to every Bills’ fan is the cap hit. By acquiring McCoy, the Bills will take a $10.25 million cap hit and save less than $1 million by trading Alonso. With McCoy set to make around $7 million in 2016 and 2017, the Bills now have two major questions to address on the defensive side of the ball.

The first being the contract status of free agent defensive end Jerry Hughes. With this trade, their available cap space to sign Hughes will take a big hit. What does this mean for his status going forward?

Nov 9, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (99) after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The second question, and the much more important one in my opinion, is what does this mean for the contract status of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus?

Dareus is under contract for one more season with the Bills and given his Pro Bowl calibre play, he is going to get paid a large sum of money. The Bills will have cap space in 2016, though, as only 39 players are under contract through next season. But how much of that cap space is the team willing to commit to Dareus and McCoy?

Aside from the salary cap issues, skeptics feel that McCoy’s best days are behind him. With back-to-back seasons of 300 carries, many fear that his tread is beginning to run thin. Combine that with the fact that the Bills graded as the worst run-blocking offensive line in football last year according to Pro Football Focus (the Eagles ranked first) and you can see why some are concerned about McCoy.

Even his average yards before contact declined last season as he dropped from 3.59 yards in 2013, to just 2.71 last season. In a zone blocking scheme like Philadelphia, some of this can be attributed to McCoy running east-west too much. But with an average offensive line in Buffalo, McCoy will have to improve this number.

Ultimately, his cap hit and usage rate have some concerned about just how productive he will be in Buffalo. As he creeps closer to the dreaded age of 30, better known as the final years of an NFL running back’s career, McCoy will be an interesting player to watch in Buffalo.

The Potential Ugly:

The obvious ugly in this trade is the potential scenario where McCoy does not report to the Bills because of his contract situation. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bills would “take very good care” of McCoy and restructure his deal in a way that he would received guaranteed money in 2016.

But if McCoy’s agent Drew Rosenhaus has his way, McCoy will get more than some guaranteed money in 2016. With rumblings of McCoy already being frustrated by the trade, the Bills can only hope that their new star running back settles down once the trade becomes finalized.

Two people who will definitely have a large impact on McCoy’s thought process are his older brother LeRon McCoy, and his former college coach Dave Wannstedt. Both are very close with McCoy. Wannstedt, a former assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Bills from 2011-2012, is one of McCoy’s favourite coaches. Hopefully for the Bills, Wannstedt can provide McCoy with a bit of insight into what playing in Buffalo will be like.

For the Bills, the aggressive acquisition of McCoy proves that the new regime is willing to take risks to try and build a winner in Western New York. Although the loss of a player like Kiko Alonso is a tough pill to swallow, the Bills have a strong enough linebacking corps that they should be fine without him.

Unless McCoy’s contract situation becomes a nightmare for Buffalo, or his play regresses beyond belief, McCoy should be an instant impact-player for the Bills next season.

However, the Bills have gone down this road in the past, bringing in the likes of Willis McGahee, Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller. But the results have been the same, no playoffs.

Funny enough, the only running back to make a consistent impact with the team during this playoff drought has been the undrafted Fred Jackson out of Coe College. In a league dominated by quarterbacks, the Bills long-term plan at the position — or lack there of — makes rolling the dice on a running back like McCoy worth the risk.

Next: C.J. Spiller Says He Will Not Return to Buffalo Bills