PHOENIX (WKBW) — When free agency opened up in mid-March, the Buffalo Bills made a move to sign 35-year-old running back Frank Gore as a complementary piece to LeSean McCoy. It gave the Bills three running backs over the age of 30, which meant one of them weren't likely to make it to the regular season.
That player has already been identified. The Bills are planning to release veteran running back Chris Ivory in order to make the top pair of McCoy and Gore. Though it hasn't happened officially yet, that is the expectation. ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report the soon-to-be move.
Releasing Ivory will save the Bills over $2 million in cap space in the 2019 season. Ivory, 31, averaged 3.3 yards per carry on 115 attempts in 2018.
Joe B's Take
- Once the Bills added Gore, the writing was on the wall for Ivory. The soon-to-be released running back wasn't the entire problem for his low yardage totals in 2018, though his plodding and downhill running style is clearly upgraded by Gore's ability to make people miss -- even at his age in the NFL.
Above all else, the Bills have a desperate need to add youth to the running back room. They haven't added a running back in the draft since selecting Jonathan Williams in the fifth round in 2016, which means the team hasn't brought one in with that avenue of roster building since general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott first came to town.
It would be a bit of a surprise if, with seven selections in the last four rounds of the draft, the Bills don't use at least one of their ten total picks on a running back to develop. They'll likely feel as though they can get by with McCoy and Gore being their top players on paper and with only a year remaining on each of their contracts, while the young player develops in the background and gets some carries here or there.
Of course, the best case scenario would be if that young player is way farther along than they had originally anticipated, and factors into the backfield heavily. However, all of that depends on who is available and when the Bills select a runner -- which is mostly out of their control until draft day comes around and they're on the clock.
So, the Bills move on from Ivory, save some cap space that they didn't really need to at this point, but mostly they gave the runner a chance to hook on with another team well in advance of the 2019 NFL Draft, training camp, and the regular season. And they cleared up the backfield in the meantime.