KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took mere hours for running back LeSean McCoy to go from the backfield of the Buffalo Bills to the Kansas City Chiefs, but it seemed inevitable long before Monday that he would one day reunite with head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach
“Back and forth, rumors every year, rumors every year, I thought it would be with coach Reid,” I said, OK, I’m going home somewhere. If it’s back home in Philadelphia or back home with Big Red, it’s going to happen.
On Monday, the gang officially reassembled. The sides inked a contract agreed to over the weekend, a one-year, $3 million deal including incentives that could push the total to $4 million.
It was an easy decision, McCoy explained, for so many reasons.
“I thought this was probably the best fit for me,” McCoy said. “Man, you see the offense, I’m just trying to get in here and just fit a small role. These guys are rolling. To be a part of that, I think have a great chance at a championship, to be able to pick a team that you want to play for.”
But the comfort with Reid and Veach certainly helped clinch the deal. Reid has “always been open and honest since day one,” McCoy explained, while Veach is “ a guy that believed in me for years.”
McCoy calls Reid family, and the head coach feels the same way.
“He has a trust there and I have a trust in him,” Reid said. “I know what to expect and he knows what to expect, and he and Brett are very close. Brett was responsible for us drafting him in Philadelphia. They’re close from that standpoint.”
The arrival in Kansas City is an opportunity for the 31-year-old McCoy to jumpstart a career stalled in Buffalo last season. McCoy turned in this sixth 1,000-yard rushing season in 2017 as the Bills finished 9-7 before bowing out to Jacksonville in a 10-3 Wildcard playoff loss. The 2018 campaign, however, turned into a nightmare. The Bills started four different quarterbacks, including Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley.
What’s more, McCoy played behind an offensive line losing left tackle Cordy Glenn, guard Richie Incognito and center Eric Wood. McCoy found little wiggle room behind a ragtag line patched together week-to-week. He rushed for a career low 514 yards, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
“They always talk about all the negative, ‘Oh, Shady didn’t have a good year,’ and this and that,” McCoy said.
“That was a tough year mentally, physically it was definitely tough. But I’m past that, I’m here now. I’m looking for a big year, I’m looking to help this team out anyway possible and I’m excited, I really am excited to be here.”
Reid watched the tape on McCoy and believes he still has plenty left in the tank.
“There’s not a lot of 31-year-old running backs running around out there,” Reid said. “He still has the great feet and the vision.”
Veach concurred on Saturday as rumors swirled about McCoy heading to Kansas City.
“We play a lot of common opponents and got to see him on tape,” Veach said. “He’s still a talented player and does a lot great things in the pass game.”
How the Chiefs plan to incorporate McCoy into the crowded backfield remains to be seen. Reid said right now he views McCoy and Damien Williams both as starters. The immediate goal is for McCoy to pick up an offense that changed considerably since he lasted played in it in 2012.
“This is different from what we did in Philadelphia,” Reid said. “There are going to some familiar things, but it’s quite a bit different. He’s going to have to get in and learn it, and then we’ll just see how that goes.”
McCoy said he already jumped into the playbook on Monday. Reid didn’t commit to whether McCoy would play in Week 1 against Jacksonville, but the signs point to yes if he McCoy picks up the offense quickly.
“He’s a pretty sharp kid, so I think he’ll be OK doing that,” Reid said. “He’s been practicing and playing in these preseason games, so the condition part is not an in issue. It’s just becoming familiar with the protections and the run game part.”
McCoy makes it clear he wants to play as long as he can at as high a level as he can. Coming to the Chiefs is a step toward prolong his career, as he relishes the opportunity where he doesn’t have to carry the load by himself and has plenty of targets around him to create open space in which to work.
“You’ve got the quarterback and all the wide receivers, even in the backfield they’ve got some good players,” McCoy said. “You look at it that way, I come in here and do somethings, and not just being the red dot that every game the defense is circling. That helps out when you have a lot of help around.”
Reid said he and McCoy are on the same page when it comes to his role on the team.
“He knows I’m not going to pull any punches with him, he’s going to get to work and he’s got to learn the offense,” Reid said. “I’ve been very honest with him about Damien and how good of a football player he is. I think it’s a great situation for both of them and for the team.”
Several teams had an interesting in landing McCoy, and the Chargers appeared the other front runner. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn served as running backs coach, offensive coordinator and interim head coach in Buffalo, and he’s someone McCoy knows well and respects. He also counts himself a fan of quarterback Philip Rivers.
The prospect of playing with Patrick Mahomes, however, also proved irresistible.
“This is guy is for real, he’s the real deal,” McCoy said. “So getting here with him and all the other weapons, that’s a unit that just made sense.”
But it was the lure of playing for Reid most of all that proved too strong, along with the chance to play for a Super Bowl.
“That’s one thing I haven’t done yet,” McCoy said “I’ve had good numbers, which you know, and I’ve done good things, but I want to win with a winning team. Whatever it takes to get that done, we’ll do.”