BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Bills added the versatile running back the team has been searching for to add to their top-ranked offense by trading for Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines on Tuesday in exchange for running back Zack Moss and a conditional 2023 sixth-round pick that can become a fifth-round pick.
The Bills, who lead the AFC with a 6-1 record, have been looking to add a dynamic pass-catching back for some time, originally almost closing in on a deal earlier this year for Washington's J.D. McKissic before he decided to re-sign with the Commanders. The team drafted running back James Cook in the second round, to fill a role as a receiving threat, and he has been developing over the course of the season. His best receiving performance came in this past week's game against the Green Bay Packers with a 41-yard reception.
Since Hines, 25, entered the NFL in 2018, he ranks fifth among running backs in receiving yards (1,725). This season the fourth-round pick out of NC State has 25 receptions for 188 yards on a struggling Colts offense that saw quarterback Matt Ryan benched for Sam Ehlinger.
Hines also has the potential to contribute as a punt returner for the Bills, an area where the team lacks depth after wide receiver Jamison Crowder's injury. Hines has returned 73 punts in his NFL career and has two punt return touchdowns. He has averaged 11.8 yards per return in his career. The Bills are averaging 10.3 yards per punt return.
Hines, sources said before the deadline, welcomed a potential trade -- especially to a team like the Bills with a high-powered offense.
He signed a three-year, $18.6 million contract before the 2021 season and figured to remain a centerpiece of the Colts' offense. Instead, he went on to post career lows in receptions (40) and targets (57) last season. Additionally, his carries dropped by 33 from 89 in 2020 to 56 last season.
So far in 2022, he's playing just 30% of offensive snaps -- a career low. And with the Colts' massive struggles on the offensive line, running lanes have been nonexistent. Hines is averaging 2 yards per carry on 18 carries.
With the Colts' offense falling apart -- the team last week benched Ryan and on Tuesday fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady -- the previously stated plans to involve Hines more extensively in the Indianapolis offense never truly panned out and took a back seat to other priorities.
In Buffalo, Hines will be joining a running back room that includes Cook and Devin Singletary, who leads the team in rushing yards (323) and attempts (71). Singletary also has the second-most receptions on the team (23) and has averaged 8 yards per reception this season, but his role going forward should be more focused on the ground game with the addition of Hines.
Moss has become expendable for the Bills thanks to the other threats on the offense and needed contributors on special teams. The 2020 third-round pick was a healthy scratch for the team's game against the Kansas City Chiefs and did not play a snap against the Packers.
In other moves Tuesday, the Bills acquired safety Dean Marlowe from the Atlanta Falcons for a 2023 seventh-round pick and officially activated cornerback Tre'Davious White from the physically unable to perform list.
Marlowe was with the Bills 2018-20 after starting his career with the Carolina Panthers, with now-Bills coach Sean McDermott as his defensive coordinator. The Bills have needed depth at safety since Micah Hyde suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 2. Safety Jordan Poyer left the team's Week 8 victory over the Green Bay Packers with an elbow injury.
The Bills also reinstated cornerback Xavier Rhodes to the practice squad, released defensive tackle Brandin Bryant and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins from the active roster, and released cornerback Jordan Miller from the practice squad.