J.D. McKissic proved yet again why WFT needs to re-sign him this summer originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Running backs are expendable in the NFL. Most times, it seems as though teams regret it when they pay RBs bigtime money given the position’s short shelf-life and overall dependency on the offensive line.
Even so, the Washington Football Team has one task ahead of it which is an absolute priority over the summer of 2022: re-signing running back J.D. McKissic.
McKissic isn’t Washington’s lead back—that designation belongs to Antonio Gibson, who himself has proven to be more than capable leading the backfield this season.
Still, a guy like McKissic is hard to come by in the NFL. He’s 28 and in his fifth year in the league, but you won’t see much wear-and-tear on him if you watch him this season. Even in his sixth year in the pros, McKissic is averaging career-highs in yards per touch (6.7) and total touchdowns (four and counting) for the Burgundy & Gold. He also hasn’t fumbled the ball once.
It’s also worthwhile to note McKissic’s durability. He hasn’t missed a game since 2018, which is almost unheard of for a running back. Given that Antonio Gibson’s leg issues have been bothersome, having a backup as solid as McKissic could certainly be something to be thankful for in the future.
McKissic makes every snap count — either running the ball, on shallow routes in the passing game, or picking up blitzes. Picking up the blitz, in fact, has been one way in which he has saved Taylor Heinicke’s skin this season, and one task that far too many running backs shirk.
McKissic hits gaps and makes cuts as good as any young starter in this league. Seeing a 28-year-old as agile as McKissic is rare. Yet, he has bested father time on multiple occasions this season.
Take Week 4 in Atlanta, for example. His 30-yard touchdown reception sealed the win for Washington in a game in which he rushed for 15 yards and caught all of his targets for 44 yards and a score.
Most recently, McKissic was the catalyst for WFT’s all-too-rare Monday Night Football win vs. Seattle this week. Both of Washington’s touchdowns came through McKissic in different ways.
The first was a screen pass from Heinicke. McKissic caught the ball in the backfield and had to cut inside before hustling to the boundary and inching past the pylon.
McKissic’s second TD on the day — which ended up being one of the deciding factors in the contest — was a shotgun handoff from the ten-yard line. The RB hesitated for just long enough before hitting the hole off of an Ereck Flowers block and plowing his way into the end zone against his former team.
"I think he's one of the most versatile guys in the league," WFT coach Ron Rivera said of McKissic after the win vs. Seattle. "I mean, he's a threat first, second or third down. He's a guy that really you want to have there as much as possible. He's a resilient player."
McKissic has averaged a stellar five yards per carry during Washington’s current three-game win streak. He exited Monday’s game prematurely after taking a rough-looking hit to the head/neck area in the third quarter but would take to Twitter after the game to reassure fans that he is good to go.
McKissic is often overshadowed on the box score by the first-string Gibson. Still, having a veteran presence in the backfield — and a guy who is as lethal in the passing game as he is in the running game — is attractive to any team.
His two-year contract expires at the end of this season. He carries a cap hit of $1,660,000 this year, but is in line for a raise and an extension this summer. If Washington doesn’t re-sign McKissic he likely won’t be on the free-agent market for long. He's proven an important piece who should have a place on the 2022 roster.