The Buffalo Bills are in need of some running back help to start this season, and there are rumors that the situation could lead to a reunion with fan favorite Fred Jackson.
The Bills had a disappointing 2015 season, falling short of playoff expectations, but the running game was one of the brightest points. The team sported a multi-faceted attack that included LeSean McCoy coming out of the backfield and quarterback Tyrod Taylor running both on a number of designed plays and taking off when his protection broke down.
But one of the biggest surprises came in rookie Karlos Williams, who had 517 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground along with 96 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions. The Bills were entering 2016 with what looked like a potent combination of Williams and McCoy.
Those plans have now changed. The NFL announced last week that Williams would be suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, leaving the Bills with a hole to start the season.
That led to rumors that the Buffalo Bills would be looking for some running back help, at least for the first few weeks. The Bills found a late-season surprise in Mike Gillislee, who ended his short stint with a 5.7 yard-per-attempt average, but he wasn’t considered to be a full-time back.
The situation led many to speculate about a return for Fred Jackson, the longtime Buffalo Bills player and fan favorite who joined the Seattle Seahawks last season after being cut by the Bills. Jackson is an unrestricted free agent and could be an easy addition for the Bills.
His longtime friend, Bills safety Aaron Williams, is publicly backing the move, tweeting that it was “ridiculous that it hasn’t happened yet.”
It’s not clear if Fred Jackson would be a good fit in Buffalo. His exit wasn’t exactly on the best of terms, and there was reportedly some tension between Jackson and Bills general manager Doug Whaley on how the transaction was handled.
And a signing would not guarantee Jackson a permanent spot on the roster. Williams would be expected to resume the backup role once he returns following his suspension, so his replacement may not have room to stay on a roster with an already crowded backfield.
That is not set in stone, however. As the Democrat and Chronicle noted, there had already been plenty of concern about Karlos Williams after he showed up to the mandatory mini-camp in June very overweight. As the report noted, Williams blamed his fiance’s pregnancy for the weight gain.
“Williams said part of the problem was he often ate at crazy times because his fiancée was pregnant, and he let his eating get out of control while slacking off on his conditioning work. He made light of the situation at mini-camp when he said, ‘I like to eat and then her being pregnant gave me an excuse to eat, so eating anything and everything. She’d wake up, one or two o’clock, ‘I want a snack.’ Well I’m not going to sit here and watch you eat because I don’t want you to feel bad.”‘
There are other reports that the Bills could be considering veteran back Reggie Bush, though those talks appear to be in the early stages as well.
If the rumors are true and the Buffalo Bills do end up signing Fred Jackson, they may be making a move soon. The Bills begin training camp in one week, and likely want to have a full contingent of backs together to gain chemistry in what will be Tyrod Taylor’s first full offseason as the starting quarterback.
[Photo by Bill Wippert/AP Images]