Bills GM Brandon Beane admitted on Saturday that he and head coach Sean McDermott wrestled with the decision to release LeSean McCoy as part of their effort to get the roster to the required 53 by 4 pm.
The two chief decision makers for the Bills ultimately did what they believe is best for the organization and that will mean more opportunity for rookie RB Devin Singletary, their third-round pick this past spring.
The move made it clear that Singletary capably demonstrated in training camp and the preseason that he had a firm grasp of all the responsibilities required of a complete back.
“This allows Devin more opportunities to show what he can do for the team,” said Beane. “We believe in LeSean and still believe he can play, but you can’t look at every decision in a vaccum. After the draft Devin was a guy we were excited about, but some guys transition faster and some guys transition slower. That’s one of the decisions. Who is ready in that running back group to contribute right away? And we just felt right now that Devin would be able to help us along with the other guys that we’re keeping.
“So that all went into this decision. It was very difficult, but I believed in LeSean the whole time and again it was down to the last minute that we decided to go in this direction.”
The chief reason why Buffalo’s brass had to wait and see who they wanted to keep and with whom they could part ways, was Singletary wasn’t asked to play much of a role in the receiving game in college, nor was he asked to pick up blitzers in pass protection. They had to evaluate whether or not the rookie back had the ability to execute in both of those areas.
Through the course of the offseason and in the preseason Singletary checked all the boxes.
“Again when we drafted him we had to get him in here and see how well he picks up his role. He’s being asked to do some different things. They didn’t throw to him a lot at Florida Atlantic. He wasn’t asked to do a lot in pass pro. Again he had to prove himself,” said Beane. “He’s not perfect in either, but he’s shown an ability to do it. We believe he’s got what it takes.
“He understands protections. The first thing in pass pro is to understand protections and where the free man is coming that he has to pick up. He’s got a good grasp of that mentally. The next part is his technique. I thought early in camp he was inconsistent with his technique. I think he’s improved it and he’ll continue to work on it. But he’s shown enough to be in there on any of the three downs. That went into the decision.”
Beane maintained that not until the decision was made to part ways with McCoy did they actively seek to trade him, nor did any teams really present anything concrete in terms of a trade offer for the veteran back.
McCoy was a high-quality insurance policy in the event that Singletary, or any other back they acquired this offseason, wasn’t capable of filling a multi-faceted role in Buffalo’s offense.
And even though there will be a far greater number of opportunities for Singletary in 2019, it doesn’t mean he’ll be a feature back in the traditional sense in Buffalo’s offense going forward.
“I don’t want to put him on a pedestal, a guy who hasn’t played a regular season game, but he’s done a very good job of answering the questions we’ve had so far,” said Beane. “He’s a hard worker. He’s very humble. I appreciate the way he approaches the game. He really leans on the veterans. So I really like how he’s come in and who he is.
“We do see this being a running back by committee, whatever group that we kept. We’re excited with where (Singletary is) heading, but he’ll have a lot to prove as a rookie this year.”