3 running backs Commanders can sign to replace J.D. McKissic


Shortly after free agency officially opens up at 4 p.m. on March 16, the Washington Commanders are expected to lose one of their most versatile offensive players. Running back J.D. McKissic has agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with the Buffalo Bills, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

McKissic has been the definition of a swiss-army knife for Washington over the past two seasons. His versatility is something many coaches, including Ron Rivera, covet. His wide skill set has allowed him to thrive in Scott Turner's offense, especially as a pass-catching back -- only Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler have totaled more receptions over the past two seasons.

While losing McKissic is undeniably a substantial loss for Turner and the Commanders offense, the running back is replaceable. Washington found a hidden gem by signing McKissic two years ago. Now, they could attempt to do the same with another player.

Here are three running backs the Commanders can target in free agency to replace McKissic...

Jerick McKinnon

Anyone who watched the Kansas City Chiefs during the last month or so of the 2021 season saw firsthand just how impactful Jerick McKinnon can be.

During the playoffs, McKinnon stepped in as the starting running back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams not 100% healthy. He thrived in that role, totaling 150 rushing yards on 34 carries, 14 receptions for 165 receiving yards and a touchdown over that three-game stretch.

At this point in his career, McKinnon isn't suited to fill the RB1 role for an entire season. In Washington, he wouldn't be asked to be the feature back, either. McKinnon has the skill set to fill McKissic's void as the team's pass-catching back rather nicely and shouldn't be too expensive of a signing, either.

Tarik Cohen

Of all the names on this list, Tarik Cohen is the flashiest one.

Cohen just recently hit the free-agent market, as the former Bears standout was released by Chicago with a failed physical designation on Friday. Cohen tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season and has not played since.

If healthy, Cohen is as versatile as any running back on the market. Cohen excels as a receiver out of the backfield -- the exact role McKissic thrived in the past two seasons. Cohen also specializes in the return game and could shore up that role for Washington, especially if the team does not re-sign DeAndre carter.

In 51 career games, Cohen has totaled 1,101 rushing yards, 1,575 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. His best season came in 2018 when he finished with 444 rushing yards, 71 catches for 725 yards and eight total touchdowns.

Damien Williams

Sticking with the former Bears theme, Damien Williams is another name that could catch the eye of Washington's brass following McKissic's departure.

Williams signed with Chicago last season after a solid two-year run in Kansas City, highlighted by his impressive performance in Super Bowl LIV. Injuries and COVID-19 derailed Williams' lone campaign in the Windy City, but he still has the versatile skill set to be a contributing player.

Williams makes sense in Washington for many of the same reasons as McKinnon and Cohen. He's proven to be a solid pass-catching back, but also has the size and ability to run between the tackles as well. Of the names listed so far, Williams is the best downhill runner of the three.

At 29 years old, it's unlikely Washington would want to make a multi-year commitment to Williams, especially considering he'd be in a No. 2 role. A one-year deal could make sense for both sides.

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