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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Buffalo takes a chance on Chad Jackson


A marginal signing within the AFC East usually isn't worth a blog post. I particularly have a hard time getting inspired to write about a player who couldn't find work the entire season before.

Chad Jackson
Since getting drafted by the Patriots in the second round of 2006, Chad Jackson has only 14 catches.
But Chad Jackson is a special case. He's one of the division's most notorious flameouts in the past decade.

The Buffalo Bills signed Jackson on Wednesday. Terms of his contract weren't disclosed, but it's safe to assume it's a low-risk deal for Buffalo.

Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels couldn't find a use for him, but maybe new Bills coach Chan Gailey will figure out how to extract production from a receiver who once was considered the most promising of his draft class.

Jackson is the Patriots' greatest draft failure on Belichick's watch. They overvalued the University of Florida receiver and kicker returner enough to move up 16 spots and draft him 36th overall four years ago.

He was the second receiver drafted that year, 11 picks after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Santonio Holmes, but the Patriots cut him after two seasons. Jackson has 14 career receptions for the Patriots and Denver Broncos.

"Talking to people in the organization, they misjudged how important football was to him," said former NFL linebacker Steve DeOssie, who hosts a Patriots postgame show on Boston sports-radio station WEEI. "I don't think he worked as hard as they anticipated him working.

"A receiver in that offense has to make some reads. He had to do a little more homework than with some other offenses, and he wasn't ready to put in the work. It wasn't a physical-skills scenario. He wasn't putting in the effort the Patriots expect, especially out of their top picks."

Jackson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds. He was supposed to be the replacement for Super Bowl hero Deion Branch.

Hamstring and groin injuries limited Jackson's rookie season to a dozen games and 13 receptions. Then he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the AFC Championship game. He didn't return to the field until Week 10 of the 2007 season. He finished that season with zero catches and was released at the end of 2008 training camp.

Denver picked him up a month later. He played in four games, catching one pass. Denver cut him at the end of training camp last year, and he couldn't find a new employer until Wednesday.

"Overcoming injuries is all a part of work ethic," DeOssie said. "The guys who work hardest from rehab are the ones who come back best. If you choose not to work hard at rehab, especially a guy whose livelihood depended on speed, you don't stick around.

"Injuries weren't the reason. Hopefully, that's a lesson he's learned. I've seen it click before. Maybe he's one of those guys. Sometimes, you think differently at 25 or 26 than you do at 21 or 22."