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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Bledsoe departs

    Feb. 16, 2005 -- When the Buffalo Bills gave up a first-round draft choice to the New England Patriots for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, they were hoping the two sides would live happily ever after.

    It didn't quite work out that way.

   Bledsoe started strongly but his performance went downhill quickly. He was released four years ago today. The News' Mark Gaughan reported it this way:

   Drew Bledsoe's reign as the Buffalo Bills quarterback is over.

    The team called a 1 p.m. news conference to announce its intention to release the 12-year veteran.The Bills cannot actually cut Bledsoe until Tuesday, which league rules stipulate is the first day this offseason that players can be waived. However, in deference to Bledsoe, the Bills decided to announce their intention to release him ahead of time.

    It's a move that has been on the horizon for weeks, due to the team's desire to get J.P. Losman ready to take over the quarterback job. Several Bills players who requested anonymity on Tuesday said they were expecting the move to happen.

    The release will end a three-year tenure by Bledsoe that was occasionally thrilling but ultimately unfulfilling for Bills followers.

    Bledsoe went 23-25 as the Bills' starter. The 2004 season was his most successful from a winning standpoint, but the Bills' 9-7 record was not good enough to get them into the playoffs.

    The Bills' deep respect for Bledsoe and his first-class conduct with the team is the reason for pre-empting the Tuesday cut date. The moves gives Bledsoe more time to pursue opportunities elsewhere. A similar situation happened in Cleveland on Monday when the Browns announced their decision to release veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia.

--- Budd Bailey

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