By Rob Kotaska
In an off-season full of highs for Bills fans, today may have provided the peak. The Bills did the smart thing giving running back Fred Jackson a two-year extension worth 8 million dollars. The move last week to cut Drayton Florence has provided benefits besides getting rid of a sieve on the back end of the defense, it freed up the money to get this deal done.
For those that may have forgotten, Freddy was on an MVP-level yardage pace last season before a broken leg put him on the shelf. The cold fear in the hearts of Bills fans everywhere was that given the improvement former number one pick C.J. Spiller displayed once Fred was hurt it might cause the Bills to low ball the perennially under-appreciated running back from Coe College. Thankfully those fear were unfounded.
What I love about the deal is that it is fair to both the player and the team. Jackson is 31, and though he has less tread on the tires than other sunning backs his age, that has to be a consideration. Fred got the money he deserved without strapping the team with a long-term deal that could hurt them as his body starts to feel each hit further into the week.
Buddy Nix seems to have the pulse of this team. Fred is reportedly a very popular player in the locker room. Had they given him the short stick in terms of a contract it could have been disastrous for morale. The undrafted free agent and NFL Europe alum clearly outperformed his contract. Here’s hoping the good will displayed here will translate to Fred being a part of the franchise after his playing days are over. He is already my second favorite Bills running back of all time. (Behind Thurman). If he keeps up the production on the field, and continues displaying the class with which he carries himself off of the field, it is not hard to imagine him some day challenging for number one on that list. (Thurman left for the Dolphins, a stain that hurts his standing…#34 in teal and coral is burned in my brain. That and the whole helmet issue/ “I am the Michael Jordan of the NFL” arrogance relating to Super Bowl XXVI… he has some big warts on his resume)
The momentum from this move, on top of all the others that Nix has managed this off-season, has a post-season or bust attitude permeating from One Bills Drive. Every team will say that is their goal each year, the Bills have not been an exception on this front in the past few years. But for the first time they are putting their money up front in addition to words. It should be a very interesting year, hopefully not due to C.J. Spiller complaining about sharing carries. There are plenty of touches to be had, have you seen the Bills wide out depth chart?
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