After a fairly quiet free agency period the Buffalo Bills finally made its splash signing of the 2016 offseason. Never one to shy away from a big move, GM Doug Whaley brokered a one-year deal with explosive running back Reggie Bush earlier this week.
The acquisition brings a huge name in the football world to the small town of Buffalo which as expected has created plenty of buzz, both good and bad. Here are four positive and negative aspects of the teams latest addition of former Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl XLIV winner Reggie Bush. Starting with the Pros:
Head Coach Rex Ryan has already stated Bush will be the team’s punt returner this season but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he also played a role in the offense/passing game. When LeSean McCoy needs a breather, offensive coordinator Greg Roman will have a similarly skilled player in Reggie to work with.
The signing provides Buffalo with a guy that can be successful in multiple roles and fills a void on special teams that is crucial in winning the all-important field position battle. Having recorded 4 punt return touchdowns and a 7.8 yard average over 100 career attempts, #22 is a proven commodity at that spot. This move also surrounds Tyrod Taylor with another weapon that possesses an explosive, yet flexible skill set.
Lots of talent, little cash
Reggie Bush has always been known as a playmaker that can take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. He has racked up 1,000 yards from scrimmage or more each year from 2011-2013 and scored six or more touchdowns in 8 of his 11 NFL seasons. On Tuesday night in his first first practice back from a knee injury, the running back looked explosive and decisive with his cuts, even busting off the longest run of the session.
By agreeing to a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $3 million, the Bills get a highly talented player with ability that would be tough to find elsewhere for the same low price. Its definitely a bargain the Bills are happy to roll with given the teams limited cap space. Plus, who doesn’t love the one-year, incentive-laced contract when it comes to a big name player late in their career? Don’t sleep on motivation.
Heading into his 11th season with his 5th NFL team, Bush has plenty of experience in the league at 31 years of age. In comparison, the next oldest Bills running back is McCoy at age 28. The rest of the backfield, made up of Karlos Williams, Jonathan Williams, Mike Gillislee and James Wilder Jr., are all 25 or under.
Some of these young guys will probably benefit from working with a veteran who’s played on the games biggest stages like Bush each and every day. And with the recent offseason incidents involving McCoy, Karlos and Jonathan Williams, this move might be just what the Bills backfield needs. Reggie has been in the spotlight ever since his USC Trojans-days and has managed to steer clear of issues that would keep him off the field, serving as an active example on how to navigate your career.
After coming back from a season-ending knee injury in November, there are definitely going to be concerns about his health. The Bills are already missing Karlos for the first four games of the year so Bush being available will be important especially during that time.
He’s only played 16 games over the last two seasons however, so the durability concern is a real issue. It’ll be interesting to see if he can fight off the recent rash of injuries or not.
Simply put, running backs over 30 don’t typically enjoy a lot of success in the NFL. Bush is 31 and his best days are almost certainly behind him. Even as feared as he once was, the Bills are taking a gamble on an older player at a skill position.
One Less Roster Spot for a Young Back
As mentioned before, the Bills have four running backs on the roster that are 25 or younger. Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee, James Wilder Jr. and Jonathan Williams are all talented players with different skill sets. Besides the rookie they’ve all shown productivity in limited opportunities as well.
At least one of these guys was most likely already on the outside looking in for the final 53-man roster, but with the arrival of Bush it should solidify that. If one of the four is let go, expect them to catch on with another team quick, as Doug Whaley has done a solid job of compiling young talent for Greg Roman’s offense.
Overall, I really like the move in bringing Reggie Bush on board. It’s always a risk taking on a player with recent injury history but in this case the potential reward outweighs the one-year investment. And even though the Bills backfield looks stacked now, the toll of a full NFL season can wear on a team that likes to pound the rock as often as Buffalo.
Bush provides Rex and the crew with a dual-threat that can contribute in a multitude of ways on the field. Look for the new #22 in town to become a fan favorite right away.
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