Blake's foot could be deal-breaker

Jeff Blake's right foot is the biggest question mark holding up a deal with the Bills. If Buffalo signs him, it will be facing a similar situation that it faced with Sam Cowart: the team will have to calculate the risk of buying a player's services against the possibility that this player might never return to the form he once had before a debilitating injury.

Blake broke his right foot and dislocated his ankle when, during a Week 12 contest two seasons ago, he was tackled on a right rollout by Raiders defensive end Lance Johnstone. It was an innocent looking play, but upon releasing the ball, Blake had Johnstone rolling up on his lower right leg as he was wrestled to the ground. Oakland was winning 3-0 at that point, and won 31-22.

Blake needed surgery, some pins and about nine months to repair three broken bones and two torn ligaments. He also had bone fragments in the foot.

In training camp 2001, he came back, intent on winning the No. 1 job. But Blake's foot would be sore and swell after working out, making it seem very questionable that it could hold up for 16 games. Blake denied that the injury limited his abilities, but he lost the starting job to Aaron Brooks anyway. He was a salary cap casualty after a re-negotiated contract could not be worked out with New Orleans this off-season.

We know from the Cowart situation that Tom Donahoe would rather not take that kind of risk [unless a contract is extremely Bills salary cap-friendly] which may mean that Blake doesn't have much of a chance in landing with the Bills, especially considering that a large part of Blake's game is mobility. With that, his repaired foot probably wouldn't be able to take the pounding of a whole season.

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