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After deliberations, Bills decide to keep Fred Jackson

Normally when a star player under contract sticks around, it's not newsworthy.

Fred Jackson's situation was different.

The Buffalo Bills held discussions about what to do with Jackson, their four-time captain and most popular player of a barren era.

The idea of cutting him was debated in depth by the Bills' highest executives. A team source confirmed that the Bills approached Jackson about restructuring the one year remaining on his contract to help them with the salary cap, but without a pay cut.

Personnel bosses from four NFL teams told me they had the impression Jackson was or would be available to acquire.

Monday morning, however, the Bills finally informed Jackson he wasn't going anywhere.

Jackson almost got crowded out of the backfield he's been with the past eight seasons. The Bills recently traded linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles for star running back LeSean McCoy.

The Bills' front office also wants to give Bryce Brown, acquired from the Eagles last year for a 2015 fourth-round draft choice, a better opportunity as McCoy's backup. Previous Bills coach Doug Marrone wasn't fond of Brown and deactivated him nine games.

The Bills want their third-string back to be a special-teams contributor, and that's where Anthony Dixon remains the best fit. Jackson doesn't play special teams.

Furthermore, a knowledgeable source informed me -- as News reporter Jay Skurski previously heard -- the Bills will pursue former New York Jets running back Bilal Powell for depth and special teams.

Jackson turned 34 last month and is coming off a disappointing season in many ways, but his campaign was reflective of the offense's problems.

He rushed for only 525 yards, but that led the Bills. His two rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.

The Bills, though, finished with their fewest rushing yards since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Their offensive line graded out as one of the league's worst.

Jackson caught a team- and career-high 66 passes for 501 yards and another touchdown. Both totals ranked third among all NFL running backs.

He is third in club history with 5,646 rushing yards behind Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson. Jackson ranks fifth with 8,286 scrimmage yards behind Thomas, Andre Reed, Simpson and Eric Moulds.

Jackson is third in rushing yards by an undrafted player behind Priest Holmes and Arian Foster.

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