Former Buffalo Bills’ running back Fred Jackson has expressed interest in playing next year, ideally for #BillsMafia.
Fred Jackson wasn’t expected to have the career he has had in the NFL and he has the Buffalo Bills to thank for that. Going undrafted in 2007 out of Coe College, the Bills gave him a shot at a roster spot. He would quickly earn trust with the coaching staff and would leave a lasting impression on a very loyal fanbase.
Jackson has played a total of 9 seasons since then and despite not playing in 2016, he has been vocal about making a return this year. If he got to choose, Jackson would love to re-join the Buffalo Bills — who oddly cut him before the 2015 season. He spent 8 seasons in Buffalo.
"“Playing-wise, I would love to play again,” Jackson said. “You know, I’m going to try and see if I could get on a roster again. I’m going to try and see if I can get on a roster this year, training camps and things like that. If I can get into one I’m going to try to spend the next two, three months trying to get on a roster. And you know, if it doesn’t happen I’m going to hang my hat on the ten years that I did play. I was in contact with a few teams last year about coming in, and things just never worked out. We’ll see. We’ll shake those branches and see if something happens. If it doesn’t, like I said, I had ten years that I played and I enjoyed every minute of it.”"
Being realistic, the chances of Fred Jackson signing and playing with the Buffalo Bills next season are unlikely. The team is likely to re-sign Mike Gillislee in the backfield to duo with LeSean McCoy again and without a lot of cap room, it wouldn’t be the smartest move for Buffalo.
That doesn’t mean Jackson won’t find a spot elsewhere, although the chances of that are unlikely as well. After being cut by Buffalo in 2015, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks and played in all 16 games — he finished 2015 with 100 rushing yards and 257 receiving yards (2 touchdowns).
Unfortunately, he didn’t see any offers in 2016 and had to sit the entire season out.
Let’s say the Buffalo Bills don’t bring back Fred Jackson and he doesn’t find a job anywhere else, what’s next for him? According to the man himself, he would be open to retiring, but only under one condition — he does it with the Bills.
Here’s what he had to say to Siouxland News:
"“It’s automatic,” said Jackson. “It has to be as a Buffalo Bill. You know, I owe those guys everything. The fan base has by far stuck behind me the most. And still talk to me now. That’s not to take anything from anybody. But the Bills Mafia is who has made me who I am today. I love playing for those guys. As long as I can go sign that one day contract and retire as a Buffalo Bill. If they’re going to have me, I’d definitely love to do that.”"
It’s not often that a player means this much to a fanbase and also not often that a player feels the same way back. With Fred Jackson and the Buffalo Bills, that’s the case. If Jackson goes in-signed this offseason, I would be surprised and disappointed if he doesn’t sign a one-day contract to retire a Buffalo Bill.
It only seems right.
In his 8 years with the team, Jackson accumulated 5,646 yards to become the third-leading rusher for Buffalo (all-time). He added 30 rushing touchdowns, 2,640 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns.
He amassed 1,000 yards in one season (2009) and came close three other times (2010, 2011, 2013). His most impressive season was 2011, when he finished with 934 yards and 6 touchdowns on just 170 carries — that’s an average of 5.5 yards per carry. He only played 10 games that season and if he had played a full season, he would’ve even on pace for over 1,400 yards (sound like McCoy much?).
"I think they’ve got a great coach,” said Jackson. “You know, one who knows what they want to do. I’m sure they are all putting in a plan of what it is they want to get accomplished right now. The next two months is going to determine what he wants to do. I know they’ve got the whole Tyrod thing going on. I like Tyrod. I like what he brings to the table. But again that’s not my decision to make. I hope the best for all those guys. I think they all did some great things last year. There was just a couple games they came up short in. You know that’s the nature of the business. When you fall short you don’t get to where you want to be in the end. But I think they have the pieces there. If those guys stay healthy I think they’ll be able to contend and get to the playoffs next year.”"
Agreed. This team definitely has the pieces and a good chance at making a playoff run next season, but a lot of that will depend on how the offseason turns out.
Who knows, maybe Fred Jackson will help us get there.