Why the Buffalo Bills Should Trade LeSean McCoy ... and Why They Shouldn't

Bucky Gleason

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi appears lost for the season after tearing his anterior-cruciate ligament Sunday in their loss the Minnesota Vikings, leading to speculation Philadelphia will attempt to acquire a running back in an effort to stay in playoff contention.

The defending Super Bowl champions reportedly have shown interest in Bills veteran back LeSean McCoy. It makes sense. McCoy spent his first six seasons in Philly and became their all-time leading rusher with 6,792 yards. He never wanted to leave in a trade and could help lead his former team back to the postseason.

Would the Bills be interested in trading him? It's certainly worth considering.

Here are three reasons the Bills should trade the veteran running back and three reasons why they should keep him:


No future in Buffalo. McCoy has one full season remaining on his contract the current regime inherited. The Bills are intent on getting younger, evident by the turnover on their roster in the past two seasons and the commitment they made to developing players they drafted or signed. McCoy celebrated his 30th birthday in July and is off to the worst start since he played sparingly in the first half of his rookie year.

McCoy makes too much money. He has an $8.9 million cap hit for this year, third-highest among NFL running backs if you include Bell. Niners back Jerick McKinnon is the second-highest at $10.5 million, which is absurd. McCoy’s cap hit is more than $9 million next season, although he would add only $2.625 million in dead-cap money in 2019 if the Bills unloaded him now, according to spotrac.com.

His trade value will never be higher. McCoy can still contribute to a playoff contender, assuming the Eagles will bounce back from a poor start and become one. The Bills have the same record (2-3) but appear to be far more removed from playoff contention than the Eagles. He’s a multipurpose back who can be effective behind a good offensive line, as Ajayi proved last season. Ajayi gained 5.8 yards per attempt in seven games with Philly after averaging 3.4 yards per rush in seven games with Miami. You think McCoy would be motivated to help his old team into the playoffs?


The Bills need him now. The NFL is entering Week 5, and the Bills remain in postseason contention with a 2-3 record. Although it might seem Buffalo is miles behind New England, the Bills are currently only one loss behind from being tied for the division lead. They’re a better team with McCoy than without him. He’s averaged 4.5 yards per attempt in the past three years despite a slow start this season.

Trade market is weak. McCoy would help a team in the immediate future than the return would help the Bills. Complicating matters are his troubles off the field, which include a $50 million lawsuit from a former girlfriend who claims he assaulted her and allegations that he beat his son and his dog. McCoy has not faced any charges, but with him comes a risk of suspension. That alone could damage the return the Bills would get in a swap. Is a mid- to late-round draft enough to dump him?

Unloading him sends wrong message to his teammates. The organization may be developing players and planning for the future, but there are veterans currently on the roster who want to win now. Accurate or not, trading away their best player on a weak offense could be construed as a sign they’re giving up on the rest of the team. The Bills were 6-6 last season before winning three of their final four games, getting help from Andy Dalton and snapping the playoff drought.

Conclusion: McCoy has been terrific during his time in Buffalo, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Bills overpaid him after completing the deal with Philly. To send him (and his money) back to Philly and get a fourth-round pick or better in return would equate to a win-win for Buffalo. Whether it’s now or after the season, the Bills should turn the page on an aging back from a previous regime.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

Hard feeling??? Who gives a ....?

Pegula paid McCoy extra unnecessary $$ for him to come to the press conference smiling. There was no need to give him more $$$.

I couldn’t care any less about McCoy’s feelings.

Peace Frog
Peace Frog

Leave it up to McCoy. If he wants to go back to Philly, then let him, for the right price. That way, there's no hard feelings on either side. We get compensated for someone who was being shown their hat next season via cap savings, roster youthening (is that a word? it should be. youthening: the act of making younger), and picks/players. Additionally, Shady gets to finish his career where he started and does it for a team that has a better chance of making the playoffs, as you (Bucky) stated in your column. Personally, I don't think losing him will hurt us as much we think. Conversely, keeping him won't help us as much as we hope.