BY NICK ST. DENIS
Bills general manager Buddy Nix told ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio Friday that the No. 1 running back job will essentially be up for grabs between Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller this offseason.
Nix also promised that the organization would make an offer for a contract extension that would make Jackson a Bill for the remainder of his career, and it will be up to Jackson whether or not he'll take what Buffalo is willing to give.
Fair enough. Spiller should get every chance to be the primary back, as he was drafted No. 9 overall in the 2010 draft and put together a solid finish to the 2011 season in taking over Jackson's job. But if Jackson can get back anywhere in the vicinity of his level of play from a year ago, he's the guy. He was the team's best player in 2011, and the Bills' offense was actually legitimate with him on the field.
Buffalo went 5-4 with Jackson as the full-game starter last year and 5-5 if you count the game he was taken out of via injury after rushing for 17 yards. The Bills went 1-5 the rest of the way.
Entering Week 11, Jackson was averaging 101.9 rushing yards a game, he had six touchdowns in the nine games and was gaining 43.6 yards a game via receptions. Based on those numbers, Jackson was on pace for 1,630 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and 697 receiving yards.
Buffalo's leverage in limiting Jackson's paycheck is that he'll be 32 years old when his current contract runs out next March. But the fact that he didn't start more than three NFL games in a season until 2009 needs to be considered.
Regardless of what happens beyond the upcoming season, the Bills won't be hurting for production out the backfield in 2012.
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