NFL

NFL AM: Could Former Bills Back Fred Jackson Be Heading West?

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Fred Jackson visits the Seahawks:

As team’s start to make their roster cuts, there will always be a few eyebrow-raising moves, but it’s unlikely there will be a more surprising cut than that of Fred Jackson being let go by the Buffalo Bills.

After eight years with the Bills, new head coach Rex Ryan has decided that Jackson would no longer be part of the plan in Buffalo, and made Jackson an early cut, likely out of respect for the veteran back. Being released early gives Jackson an opportunity to find the perfect fit which is very important for a back this late in his career.

Jackson met with, and took a physical for the Seattle Seahawks, but has yet to sign with the team. Seattle would be a great situation for Jackson, who for all of his strengths, is absolutely better suited to be a complimentary back.

Jackson’s career suggests that perhaps he was always better suited to be a complimentary back. During his eight years in the league, the now free agent back has only carried the football for over 1,000 yards one time.

It’s been since 2009 since Jackson has run for 1,000 yards, and he has only started 16 games four times, and once over the last four years. Injuries have been an issue for the veteran tailback, and being able to back up former teammate Marshawn Lynch in Seattle could give a little more longevity at the end of his career.

For Seattle, Jackson would add another veteran voice to an offense that is pretty young, and struggled during the preseason. For all of his abilities, it’s no secret that Lynch isn’t exactly a vocal leader, and Jackson could be a steadying voice, even if there isn’t necessarily a leadership void to fill.

Pete Carroll confirmed the visit on Tuesday, but stressed that there has yet to be a signing, although Jackson did take a physical with the team.

“This is a visit for us. This isn’t a signing,” Carroll explained. “This is a visit for us with Fred. We have tremendous respect for this player. He’s got obviously a wealth of background. He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s sharp.

“So we need to see where he is right now at 34 years old and see what he looks like. He’s got a big physical coming up today, and we’ll talk to him later. For those of you that have already made the decision on what’s going on, we have not made that decision at all at this point. But we love that he’s here, and we’re trying to just get our ducks in a row for what may be necessary later on.”

Veteran presence aside, Jackson is still as talented as any running back on the Seahawks roster outside of Lynch, and it seems like a no-brainer for both Jackson and the Seahawks.

Phil Taylor, Trindon Holliday and Tim Jennings among early cuts:

NFL teams are beginning to trim the fat from their rosters, as teams must begin to figure out who makes their final 53-man roster. The first set of cuts typically feature a lot of guys who won’t be in the league on opening day, but there are always a couple of players whose sudden availability surprise you a little bit, and who are sure to find more work.

After the Bills cutting Jackson, perhaps the most surprising cut thus far has been former Cleveland Browns first-round draft pick, defensive tackle Phil Taylor. While solid, Taylor never became the stud defensive tackle the team hoped he’d become when they selected him 21st-overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Injuries cost Taylor 11 games in 2014, but he shouldn’t have trouble finding work in 2015 assuming he can pass a physical. At 6-foot-3, and over 330 pounds, Taylor has the kind of girth you can’t teach, and many teams are looking for in a league that’s always starving for talent across the lines.

While not as valuable as big 330-pound defensive tackles, it seems teams have as much trouble finding return specialists as they do lineman on either side of the ball. For that reason alone, Trindon Holliday may find another opportunity in the NFL after getting cut by the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday.

But should he?

Holliday has always reeked of the track star who got a shot to play football because he was just so fast. Despite some flashes of brilliance and return touchdowns, Holliday has always been hampered by injuries and fumbles.

After failing to stick with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who all gave the returner a look in 2014, Holliday landed with the Raiders this offseason. Now that the Raiders are the fourth team to show the speedy return man the door in two years, you have to wonder if his time in the NFL is over.

Veteran cornerback Tim Jennings may be getting ready to enter his 10th season in the NFL, but the solid pro will find work quickly, and could probably sign with Tampa Bay today if he chose to.

Jennings visited the Buccaneers after getting on Tuesday after being one of the early cuts for the Chicago Bears, who let the cornerback go so that they could get younger at the position.

Bucs head coach Lovie Smith made no secret of the team’s intention to try and sign Jennings when he commented on the veteran corners visit when he spoke to the media after Tuesday’s practice, where Jennings could be seen speaking with Smith during practice.

“My standard answer for all players that are available: we look at them,” Smith said. “We know Tim, of course. Leslie has a history with him, of course we do [as well]. He became available, so we wanted to get him in here as soon as possible and see what we had to offer.”

As much sense as it made for a rebuilding Chicago team to go young at the position, a cornerback with Jennings’ credentials who has started 16 games in each of the last two seasons won’t have trouble finding work.

Steelers restructure Antonio Brown’s contract:

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown considered holding out to get a pay bump from the team, but decided to show up this year and hope the team would step up and give him the raise he feels he deserves since emerging as one of the league’s premiere receivers.

The Steelers did just that on Tuesday as they turned some of Brown’s 2016 base salary into a signing bonus which can prorated over the next two seasons, giving Brown a 2-million dollar raise today, and clearing some cap space for Pittsburgh.

Brown, like Julio Jones, who recently signed a long-term deal with Atlanta, got what he wanted by showing up instead of holding out, proving that both approaches can work, and not all receivers are divas!

 

 


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.