Like so many veterans before him, Fred Taylor is heading to New England to set the sun on his career. After visiting and getting offers from both the Bills and the Patriots, Taylor opted for the team already in Super Bowl contention.
Taylor was released by Jacksonville last year for salary cap reasons. The 33-year old running back was slated to make $6 million in 2009 and was also due a roster bonus of $1 million soon. Rather than stick with its 1-2 punch, Jacksonville is going with Maurice Jones-Drew as the undisputed No. 1. Currently the Jaguars are negotiating a long-term extension with Jones-Drew.
The Patriots, meanwhile, need to stockpile depth at running back after a myriad of injuries last season.
Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, LaMont Jordan and BenJarvus Green-Ellis all carried the baton at different points for the Pats last season after starter Laurence Maroney went down with a season-ending shoulder injury.
Taylor may fill the role Antwoin Smith and Corey Dillon held in the twillight of their careers with the Patriots.
With the Jaguars, Taylor climbed to No. 16 on the all-time rushing list (11,271 yards). He doesn’t appear to be falling face-first in Shaun Alexander fashion, either. Just two seasons ago, Taylor amassed 1,202 yards on 5.4 yards per carry with five touchdowns. Taylor has shown signs that he still has some gas left in the tank. With the Patriots’ committee-approach, Taylor’s burst could prove effective at 8-12 carries per game at the least.
On the flip side, missing out on Taylor is a bummer for the Bills.
Buffalo is awaiting a verdict from the NFL on Marshawn Lynch. After Lynch was officially charged with three gun-related misdemeanors, the league is expected to levy a suspension. He will probably be considered a second-time offender after being entangled in a messy hit-and-run incident last off-season. The Buffalo News reported that the Bills have extended Fred Jackson an exclusive-rights qualifying offer – meaning he’ll be back next season. Jackson was often the Bills’ best playmaker on offense last season, rushing for 136 yards on 27 carries in Week 17 against New England. Jackson has stated his desire to ink a long-term deal with the Bills.
In the end, Taylor held true to his I-want-a-ring rhetoric. Despite possibly getting handed a bigger role in Buffalo, he decided to sign with the team closer to a championship.