The Buffalo Bills have few offensive problems in a week, but the lack of depth on running back eventually could be an issue that needs to be addressed, an insider says.
The Bills lost two fumbles to running backs in their season-opening win over the Los Angeles Rams, and the most effective ball carrier was quarterback Josh Allen. If the team decides to look outside of the organization for running back help, a former Pro Bowler stuck at No. 2 in Cleveland could be a target.
In a recent mailbag, a fan asked Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski if the Bills would consider trading for any of the upcoming free-agent running backs, including the Browns’ Kareem Hunt.
While Buffalo’s lead running back, Devin Singletary, was efficient in the team’s 31-10 win over the Rams, the other running backs struggled. Rookie James Cook fiddled with his first career carry and only played two more snaps for the rest of the game. Sophomore Zack Moss had six carries for just 15 yards, adding a late fumble to cap the unforgettable performance.
Hunt could give the Bills a boost. Although he only appeared in eight games for the Browns last season, he had a career-best average of 4.9 yards-per-carry and five touchdowns. He got off to a fast start in 2022, rushing for a touchdown and clinching another in the team’s win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.
Skurski noted that the trade for Hunt was an idea the Bills could monitor but likely wouldn’t explore further until later in the season.
“Any move like this would get us much closer to the close. That’s not a bad thing,” Skurski wrote. “The Bills will get a better sense of what they have in Cook over the coming weeks. Moss had a strong preseason. Let’s not write him off completely after a game with sub-par production.”
He noted the Browns needed to learn more about their team and if they stayed in the playoff picture a trade was unlikely. But if the Browns fall out of playoff contention, they could look to get some value out of Hunt before he potentially goes free.
Cook’s The Bills have shown no signs of panic as their rookie ran back after a difficult debut. After the game, Bill’s head coach Sean McDermott said the team wanted Cook to have a chance to recover from the fumble and hoped it would serve as a learning experience. Cook is expected to play a key offensive role this season and is considered the most talented passcatcher in the backfield.
“We’re trying to allow the player to reset and then come back out,” McDermott said of the Buffalo News. “I thought (running backs) coach (Kelly) Skipper did a good job allowing that time. Then James was back out there for a few…plays, I think, the rest of the game. I think that’s better than a player not having to go back out there and then sleep on it and not have a chance to somehow fix the mistake, if you will. I think that’s something he will learn from and needs to learn from. This allows us to do a better job overall, including as a team.”
Cook isn’t the only one to lose a blunder in his first career game. A number of other prominent running backs also coughed up the ball in their NFL debuts, including Hunt in 2017.