When news broke Sunday that the Buffalo Bills were interested in signing free-agent running back Bilal Powell, one of the implications discussed in this space was that franchise icon Fred Jackson's roster spot could be on shaky footing.
The Bills, according to a report Monday by the Buffalo News, debated the idea of cutting Jackson but have decided to keep him. The News' Tim Graham additionally reported that Bills owner Terry Pegula "got involved" in the talks about Jackson's future.
The initial questions about Jackson's future were met with strong reactions from fans about the Bills' captain and the team's second-longest tenured player. One fan stood at the entrance to the Bills' facility Monday morning with a plywood sign reading, "Keep Fred," which was left in a snow bank Monday afternoon:
Zubaz guy is gone, but sign remains. pic.twitter.com/CpWBAVkWfc— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) March 9, 2015
Fans also started a "Keep Fred Jackson" Facebook page that had over 5,000 "likes" by Monday evening.
Jackson, perhaps the most beloved Bills player of the last decade, responded to the support late Monday:
Extremely humbled by all the fan support. Means a lot that so many people love to see me in play in a Bills' uniform. ✊— Fred Jackson (@Fred22Jackson) March 9, 2015
Jackson, 34, is under contract for 2015 for $2.73 million, none of which is guaranteed. While he might be safe for now, it's tough to say exactly what his future holds.
As it stands, the Bills will enter training camp with LeSean McCoy as their undisputed top running back. In addition to Jackson, they have Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown under contract. Dixon provides value on special teams, while Brown was a long-coveted target of general manager Doug Whaley, who gave up a 2015 fourth-round pick to acquire Brown last offseason.
Powell played in New York under current Bills coach Rex Ryan and running backs coach Anthony Lynn, so if he's added to the mix, he could become a favorite of the coaching staff.
How it all unfolds over the next few months will be something to watch, but for now, Bills fans can rest assured Jackson isn't on his way out of town.