Here at BillsMafia.com over the next few weeks, I will be previewing all of the positions that the Buffalo Bills might look to address this offseason. While quarterback is a major area of concern, there really aren’t any free agents that project to be starting-caliber passers in 2013.
While C.J. Spiller was one of the best running backs in the National Football League during the 2012 season, rushing for 1,244 yards and six scores on just 207 carries, the Bills need a running back. Fred Jackson is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. He fumbled four times, and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry before suffering a season-ending leg injury for the second consecutive year.
While Spiller is an effective, explosive, and game-changing running back for the Bills, the team needs a player that can consistently pick up crucial yards in short yardage situations (3rd-and-short, goal line). Spiller is a bigger and more durable back than given credit for, but he’s at his best in space.
The running back position has been devalued in recent years, which means that the Bills should be able to find a talented player at a rather inexpensive price tag.
Some candidates that fit the described role include Isaac Redman (Pittsburgh Steelers), Chris Ivory (New Orleans Saints), Chris Ogbonnaya (Cleveland Browns), and Jackie Battle (San Diego Chargers).
Isaac Redman is a 28-year old running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Undrafted out of Bowie State in 2009, he signed with the Steelers and has been slowly brought along. He’s a powerful man at 6’0” 230 pounds, and can take a beating running between the tackles. He was Pittsburgh’s second leading rusher, gaining 410 yards and two touchdowns on 110 carries in 2012. Despite being 28 years old, Redman has fresh legs, as he’s only rushed the ball 272 times in his three seasons in the NFL.
Chris Ivory is one of the more attractive running backs set to hit the open market. In a pass-first offensive scheme, Ivory is stuck sharing limited carries with Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas. The 24-year old out of Tiffin has played in just 24 career games, rushing for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns in his three seasons with the Saints. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his 256 rushing attempts. He’s a stout 222 pounds, stands 6’0” tall, and has deceptive speed.
Chris Ogbonnaya has already played for three teams since being a seventh round draft pick in 2009 out of Texas. In his three years, he’s appeared in games for the St. Louis Rams, the Cleveland Browns, and the Houston Texans. Ogbonnaya has 95 career carries for 420 yards and one touchdown. He’s 225 pounds, and could thrive in a limited role complementing Spiller. Ogbonnaya shouldn’t ever expect to be a starter, but he can make a living as a short-yardage and third down back in the league.
Jackie Battle should get serious consideration by the Buffalo Bills this offseason. He’s a 29-year old veteran out of Houston that knows his role in the team, and excels in his limited capacity. He’s a massive 240 pounder that can get the yards you need in crunch time. In his five-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, Battle has carried the ball 285 times for 1,026 yards, and scored seven touchdowns. For his first three seasons in the National Football league, he never eclipsed 20 carries, but the past two years he’s averaged 122. He’s the perfect complement to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.