The Buffalo Bills swung and missed on Fred Taylor. The former-Jaguar opted for the more title-ready Patriots after visiting both teams. Still, the team's interest in Taylor suggests it is feeling queasy at running back.
And for good reason.
Starting running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to be suspended by the NFL after his second offseason brush with the law. Lynch was charged with three gun-related misdemeanors in California. Last year, Lynch was entangled in a messy hit-and-run incident, yet eluded punishment.
Amidst the fireworks, the team tendered exclusive rights free agent Fred Jackson. The $460,000-tender is hardly a ringing endorsement for someone who has taken full advantages of his opportunities the past two seasons as a backup. Jackson has expressed his interest in signing a long-term deal with the team – a move that'd seem plausible considering Lynch's antics the past two seasons.
Jackson's agent, Jerome Douglas, told the Buffalo Football Report that there's "nothing to report" for the time being.
"The Bills and us have spoken but nothing's been finalized," Douglas said.
Jackson finished last strong with big games in Buffalo's win at Denver and shutout loss to New England. Against the Broncos, Jackson relieved an injured Lynch to post 110 total yards and a touchdown. And as the full-time back against New England – when even the popcorn vendor knew the Bills were going to run in the near-tornado – Jackson grinded out 136 yards on 27 carries.
Over the last two seasons, mostly in spot duty, Jackson has amassed 871 yards on 188 carries (4.6 average). Over the same span, Lynch is averaging 4.1 per carry.
Naturally, Jackson is seeking a bigger contract.
"We remain cautiously optimistic," Douglas said. "We think Fred's done enough to establish himself on the team to be a part of the long-term future."
Still, there isn't a ton Jackson can do, since he is under contract. The ball's in the Buffalo's court. How successful the Bills are in free agency and/or the punishment levied to Lynch may dictate whether they grant Jackson an extension.
"We'd like to think something good can happen but Fred's been tendered and we'll go from there."
Head to the BFR's premium forums to say whether you think Jackson deserves a long-term deal.