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DeSean Jackson's reported problems might not be a deal-breaker for Bills

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The Buffalo Bills are open to offering sanctuary for players with checkered pasts.

That's something to keep in mind after the Philadelphia Eagles released three-time Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson today. Jackson is a vested veteran and can be signed by any team immediately. He doesn't need to go through waivers.

Less than hour before the Eagles released him this afternoon, NJ.com posted a story that details Jackson's gang connections and a previously unreported marijuana arrest in September 2009.

But since the Bills hired coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Doug Whaley gained greater influence over the roster last year, the Bills seemingly have softened their criteria for players with character concerns.

I asked Marrone about that Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla.

"I don't know what the philosophy was prior," Marrone said. "I think we all are people that believe in second chances, that people make mistakes."

A year ago, the Bills drafted linebacker Kiko Alonso and safety Duke Williams, each with multiple alcohol-related suspensions and arrests in college.

The Bills this month signed former New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes (2010 drug suspension, several embarrassing social-media indiscretions) and hosted former Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt (myriad arrests).

"Each situation's different and what that mistake may be," Marrone said. "There are some things that you can't come back from."

Marrone said the Bills' vetting process includes interviewing the player before bringing him aboard and spelling out that character relapses are forbidden to remain employed.

"They understand that stuff is not going to be tolerated," Marrone said. "If something happens, they won't be part of it. I think you just tell them that, and they understand that.

"They should feel a sense of having a chance to better themselves. We're in the business to win football games, but we're also in the business to make sure that our players and our coaches work together to better ourselves and our communities as husbands and fathers."

In Spikes' case, the Bills signed him to a one-year deal. That's symbolic for a run-stopper who they feel helps fill a significant need.

The Bills view him as a quality addition to their defense, but they clearly prefer him on a short leash.

"That's what you have to do," Marrone said. "You're giving someone an opportunity.

"If they take advantage of it, hey, great. It works out for sides. If it doesn't, you're able to exit that agreement and not have it hurt the team down the road."

  • Aaron Sydor

    D Jax and a nice OT at pick 8 will have the Bills offense looking nice. Maybe trade up in the second for a threat at TE as well.

    • Jake Knott

      We have the 9th overall pick. I we draft a tackle at that spot, or trade up for any players, I will puke.

      • Guest

        I'm inclined to agree Jake -- especially the trading up part -- that would be WAY too costly. Also, I'll puke if they pull another cornerback or safety with the 9th pick !

      • Ron

        Build an awesome offensive line and the RBs will follow!

        • Jake Knott

          I'm fine with building a stellar offensive line. Just not in the first round. The first round should be for difference-makers, like a linebacker, defensive end, or a worthy wide receiver. This is supposedly a deep tackle class, so draft one in the third or fourth round. Also, don't forget we have Chris Hairston, who is better than Pears but was out with an injury all last year.

          • Ron

            The Tackle depth in this draft is a very good point but i'm not sure Chris Hairston is the answer; and are we all not tired of the RBs consistently getting tackled five yards behind the line of scrimage? Where is our pulling guard? Lewan and Mathews are almost sure bets as starters on day one. Once beyond the top three tackles, this may be more of a depth or development guy in 3rd or 4th round. Depending who's still on the board, i'm good with WR. Just don't reach, eh?

          • Jake Knott

            Yeah, anyone besides Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins at number 9 is ridiculous. I will only accept Robinson or Matthews if Mack, Clowney, Mosley, Watkins, Evans and Ebron are off the board.

          • Brendan Bosko

            Mosley is a reach, and now that we picked up Spikes, he doesn't even really fill much of a need for us.

          • Dexter_Morgan_II

            OTs frequently go high in round 1 - they are indeed difference makers when they keep top pass rushers out of the pocket. as for hairston, he hasn't been medically cleared and hasn't played in 2 years

      • Joe D

        Puke? Draft any of the top-3 OTs and you have a guaranteed 10-year starter who can also slide to LT if necessary. I HOPE we draft either Robinson, Matthews or Lewan. Tons of value there.

  • Paul

    Great. A small guy that's real fast. We really need another one of those. Idiot.

    • Livinginthe716

      He actually catches the ball as opposed to Graham and Goodwin......He put up monster stats last year.....

      • Dan

        Whenever Goodwin didn't catch the ball he got pass interference any way so its like he caught the bal...

      • AGD

        Goodwin is solid. Graham still has more question marks than anything.

      • Jack of All Rabbits

        Graham dropped 3 and Goodwin dropped 1 last season. Jackson also dropped 3 but was targeted 126 times and caught 82. Graham and Goodwin were targeted and caught respectively 23, 57 and 17 and 32. The real problem appears to be the ratio of catches to targets; Jackson caught 65% of the passes thrown to him, Graham and Goodwin 40.4 and 53.1 respectively and this is very low in the NFL (higher than Stevie however for the latter number). What this partially means is that while a receiver may be targeted he still has to be in the position to catch and if the lower the ration then he is not putting himself into a good position. (http://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/drops/2013/)

  • Rich

    Most people believe in giving someone a second chance, that is good. Marrone however seems to believe in giving people a third or fourth second chance. I guess he caters to the slow learners. Good luck with that.

    • Paul Lesinski

      I live in Baltimore, it's worked for the Raisin's, I mean Ravens...

    • matt

      he's been the Bills coach for one year smart guy. Maybe he would cater to you. Can you just let the Bills fans talk please?

  • chuck

    who do the bills want clowney or mack

  • jeff

    MANZIEL!!!

    • Guest

      No, won't happen

  • Guest

    Unfortunately the Bills might be in a position where they have to drop the moral high ground and go cell block 8 with free agents and draft picks -- no decent free agents will come here right now and that might be the Bills only avenue to field a team that wins more than 4-6 games. Drastic times require drastic measures.

  • Lloyd M. Jr.

    The Bills failed on DeMarcus Ware, Michael Vick, Darell Revis, and Mark Sanchez. They need to redeem themselves by snapping up DeSean PRONTO!

    • Adam

      Bills were interested in none of those people

  • Robert McAvoy

    If you want to improve your QB and your running game, then you have to have an offensive line. If you want to have more long pass gains, you have to have a good offensive line, instead of the quick "dump" passes made famous by Fitzpatrick and EJ (not their fault, just a horrible offensive line). The best"difference maker" in this situation would be a dominant Left Tackle (like a Jason Peters type...oh yeah, we once had All Pro Peters). I would love if they signed DeSean Jackson, but history says the Bills won't stand up and sign a player of his calibre (but, they did with Mario, so perhaps there is hope). This frees up the Bills to draft Matthews or Lewan (Robinson would be gone).

  • Sammy Sabre

    are we the Bills or the Raiders? hard to tell these days. I think Desean and Stevey would be great in the locker room together and will really help EJ's development (please note extreme sarcarsm).

  • Trenton Johnson

    The Bills have always believed in second chances but will not employ a distraction player and even Terrel Owens behaved while in Buffalo! They have to get big play players and you cant have too many!!

  • ohweelii

    Isn't character one of the reasons Mr. Lynch is being sized up for a super ring in Seattle?

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.