Commanders’ JD McKissic pivoted back to Washington for ‘unfinished business’

McKissic pivoted back to Washington for ‘unfinished business’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

In the midst of one of the wildest NFL offseasons in recent memory, running back J.D. McKissic was prepared to sign a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. The 28-year-old had hoped to play in D.C. again next season but moved on after the Commanders didn’t make an offer when free agency opened.

That is, until the Commanders reached out and convinced him to return to Washington at the last minute. McKissic, who said in a press conference Thursday he doesn’t remember how the events unfolded because of how crazy things were, received a call from his agent to let him know the Commanders were indeed interested and he signed a two-year, $7 million contract with them instead.

“Much respect to the organization, you can’t ask for a better organization to be chosen by,” McKissic said. “But I had unfinished business in Washington. The way we left off, I felt like we were inclining and, with my injury, I had things I wanted to prove in Washington. So Washington is home.

“I made my decision off where I wanted to be. Like I said, Washington is home for me and I know Buffalo has a great organization, they’re doing some great things. But I feel like we can do great things here as well and that was my whole thing.”

Washington was 5-6 on the year when McKissic suffered a season-ending neck and head injury that forced trainers to cart him off the field. The team won again the following week for its fourth-straight victory, but all playoff hopes were dashed when Washington dropped four of its final five games — all against NFC East opponents — to close out the regular season.

McKissic was Washington’s primary pass-catcher out of the backfield, complementing lead rusher Antonio Gibson with 43 catches for 397 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also added 48 carries for 212 yards on the ground and two scores. The Commanders will now have newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz throwing the ball, which should represent an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke.

“You watch last year, we had a lot of guys go down and we also had a good period where we were doing great things,” McKissic. “We were, I feel like, one of the hottest teams in our division at the time. A lot of guys went down and you can only go so far with that. Unfortunately, it happened to us but we’re looking to come on a bit harder than last year.”

In addition to McKissic, Washington’s offense also saw players such as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, tight end Logan Thomas, wide receiver Curtis Samuel, guard Brandon Scherff, center Chase Roullier and tackle Sam Cosmi miss extended time. Defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat as well as cornerback William Jackson III finished the year on the shelf too. All of those players other than Fitzpatrick and Scherff, replaced by Wentz and Andrew Norwell, are expected to return for 2022.

McKissic will be a full go in 2022 and expects to be cleared in time for workouts this summer.

“My recovery has been good, rehab has been great too,” McKissic said. “It was scary but I’m a fearless young man and I’m ready to get back out there and help this team win games.”

With high expectations for Washington next season, he’s happy to be a Commander. McKissic believes they could’ve written a very different ending in 2021 had the roster been healthier. Now, the team will have the chance to run it back with McKissic once again playing an integral role on offense.

“We had a lot of guys down, man,” McKissic said. “I’d be a fool to say that we wouldn’t [have made] a playoff run. I think we definitely would’ve been a lot more competitive and those guys were still out there battling, don’t get me wrong. They take it down to the end and they were still in it then. But when you have all your guys on the field I think you should be able to realize a whole different ending to that.”

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