Please, save it. Save informing me NFL running backs, particularly non-starters are a dime per dozen. Save advising me that no second string ball carrier is worth $3 million-plus per season. Save reminiscing when Buffalo Bills fans thought the sky was falling post-Karlos Williams before being supplanted effectively by Mike Gillislee. Save revealing Gillislee as merely a waiver pickup that Buffalo can readily do whenever they choose.
Lastly, save telling me the Bills are actually better off saving 2017 Gillislee’s cap hit and receiving an extra fifth-round draft pick. I mean seriously, some advocators are even labeling the Bills as brilliant for drawing a draft pick for Gillislee.
The Buffalo Bills and their abomination of a general manager, Doug Whaley crumpled yet again. Whaley and his cracked staff of evaluators, assuming there’s even any not named Russ Brandon or Terry Pegula conceded Gillislee was worth an original-round (fifth) tender of around $1.7 million, but not enough to safeguard his return with a second-round tender of slightly less than a million more.
The Bills are squandering Gillislee for literally no reason than deciding on a penny-pinching, apathetic gamble.
What else is new?
Buffalo ventured no one would surrender a draft pick to sign Gillislee and ultimately lost, because failing’s what they’re virtuosos at. Of all teams, it’s the New England Patriots taking Gillislee away.
Of course, it’s not official quite yet as the Bills have five days to match, but they won’t. New England’s offered $6.4 million over two years with around $4 million the first year, making it appear financially irresponsible of the Bills to match.
It’s a blanket statement but still worth reiterating —the Bills could’ve all-but-guaranteed him back for 2017 simply by tendering him slightly less than a million more— roughly the same wage paid to 31-year old free agent Mike Tolbert this winter.
If during their appraisal of Gillislee the Bills decided they didn’t want him back and let him become unrestricted, I’d be far less heated. I’d think Whaley, presuming he even makes decisions anymore is a blithering idiot for declining a tender, but at least Buffalo would’ve presented a commitment that losing Gillislee was a football, not financial verdict.
That’s not what happened. These nitwits determined Gillislee was valuable enough to be the 27th highest paid running back for 2017, but not enough to guarantee his return by making him the 22nd highest paid. The second-round tender Buffalo for roughly 900K more would’ve been exactly the same as Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland) and Chris Thompson (Washington) will earn this year. Gillislee is better than either, and it’s not close.
Opponents will contend only two teams pay their “backup” running backs more than $2-million per year; the Eagles and Jets. I’d argue that few—actually no team in the NFL puts a heavier emphasis on running the ball than Buffalo, so bearing in mind Gillislee’s production when given opportunity, perhaps the Bills should’ve had a different line of thinking when determining his value.
To make matters worse he’s going to New England, a team inside our division. Some Bills fans call them a “rival” but I reject that term. A rivalry is a two way street. New England just straight up owns Buffalo.
In part, it’s because of personnel decisions like this. Let’s put it this way—the Patriots could’ve signed Adrian Peterson or Jamal Charles. Hell, they could’ve re-signed LeGarrette Blount after he ran for a career-high 1,161 yards and scored a franchise-record 18 rushing touchdowns.
Nope. The Patriots not only inked Gillislee to an offer after not being worth 900K more to Buffalo, but willing to surrender a fifth-round draft pick in doing so.
I’ve heard a lot— A lot of talk that Buffalo are cunning to let Gillislee walk after already have around $8 million financed in Lesean McCoy. Funny, New England already has $8 million invested in Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead, and that’s before adding $3 million-plus (and a draft pick) to add Gillislee. Hell, they just signed Burkhead for $3.15 million last month and still added Gillislee.
I don’t know—maybe the Patriots think Gillislee’s 5.7 yards per carry on 101 rushing attempts and eight touchdowns in 2016 was no fluke—not just a product of the mastermind Bills offensive system. Maybe they put stock in (per ESPN Stats & Info) Gillislee being one of only five running backs in NFL history to average at least 5.7 yards and score at least 8 touchdowns on 100+ carries. The others: Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders, Maurice Morris and Orenthal James Simpson. Maybe it matters in Foxboro Gillislee having 10 carries at the five yard line or closer that netted seven touchdowns. He’s called “Touchdown Mike” for reasons other than sounding catchy.
Here’s the short version—the Patriots evidently interpret Gillislee as more than a decent backup/system running back. How in God’s name do the Bills not feel the same? Honestly, I don’t think they’re senseless enough not to. Buffalo flat-out got exposed pinching pennies, pretentiously thinking no one would give up a draft pick to sign him.
No one can tell me Gillislee wasn’t worth 900K more to this organization. For most teams, $2.7 is a bit luxurious for a “backup” back, but Buffalo unambiguously isn’t most teams. The Bills barely wanted their quarterback to return. They’re skeletal thin at wide receiver heading into the draft. Charles Clay has underwhelmed at tight end and that’s putting it generously. If the Bills have done one thing well it’s run the football, and few backs in the league were more effective at it than Gillislee, who at 27-years old and only 154 carries to his resume has plenty of miles left on the tires.
Can we say the same for Lesean McCoy, who’ll be just one year removed from 30 by the time camp opens in Rochester, has 1,898 career rushing attempts and has dealt with lingering hamstring injuries each of the past two seasons?
I’m certainly not disrespecting Shady; one of the best backs in the league. But facts are facts—dude has missed five games in the past two seasons and played at far less than 100% in several others. At a minimum, having a quality back like Gillislee on the roster makes the ground game a legitimate threat even when No. 25 is resting on the sidelines or on the shelf.
McCoy will be 30-years old before the 2018 season and Buffalo can have $6.3 million in cap savings by cutting him next year. If they’re not contenders by season’s end don’t think for a second his departure isn’t a very real possibility.
Notice how I haven’t even mention Chris Hogan? I liked Hogan but he was never going to be a star in Buffalo with Tyrod Taylor and this offense. Sure, it felt like a stomach punch to see Hogan emerge as a star in the playoffs, but you can even argue he’d be barely serviceable in Buffalo’s offense going forward.
That’s a contention you cannot make with Gillislee. The numbers don’t lie.
Apologists cite Gillislee as just a former fifth-round pick himself the Bills found on the waiver wire and can effortlessly do it again. They label him as nothing more than a decent backup that’s easily replaceable, as evidenced by Karlos Williams before him.
What a lazy perspective to take. Gillislee showed he was perfect for the role he occupied. The Super Bowl champs plucking him because he wasn’t worth 900K more to the Bills confirms it.