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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: New signal-caller

     April 21, 2002 -- The Buffalo Bills made a bold move on this day to pick up a starting quarterback. What's more, they did it within their own division.

     The Bills made a deal with the New England Patriots to acquire Drew Bledsoe, giving up a first-round draft choice in 2003 in return. It might have been the biggest trade by the Bills since the 1987 acquisition of Cornelius Bennett.

     "This trade is probably as exciting a one as we've ever made, maybe it is the most exciting," Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. said to The News' Mark Gaughan.

     The Bills had had problems replacing Jim Kelly as the starting quarterback from 1997 to 2001, and Bledsoe's acquisition was an attempt to fix that problem. He had taken New England to the playoffs in four of his first eight years.

     However, he made the mistake of getting hurt in 2001, and lost his job to Tom Brady. New England thought Brady was its quarterback of the present and future, so it made Bledsoe available.

     As we know now, Bledsoe started well for the Bills but his rate of success soon stumbled. He was eventually released, hooking on with Dallas but never returning to his New England form. As for Brady, well, let's say the Patriots made the right decision.

--- Budd Bailey

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