Most outsiders would look at Buffalo's crowded offensive backfield with Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and second-year back Xavier Omon and not see it as a realistic opportunity for free agent veteran Fred Taylor. The 11-year veteran thinks otherwise.
"My job is to come in and be a helper, not to stir up any problems or things like that," said Taylor while making his free agent visit to One Bills Drive Tuesday. "(Lynch is) a young guy, so much potential, great upside. First, I could go back and say my mom had five kids and I'm the oldest. I've been sharing my whole life. It's easy for me to do that."
Taylor shared carries in college at the University of Florida with Terry Jackson and Eli Williams. Early in his NFL career at Jacksonville he rotated with James Thornton. After serving a handful of years as a starter he rotated with Maurice Jones-Drew.
"I know how to play with other backs," Taylor said. "I've been doing it my entire career. I think it'll make us better. Competition is a strange thing. It will only pull the best from him and that's what I look to do as well as he be competitive with me. When I go out there I'm going to go as hard as I can and maybe give them some pointers and I expect the same."
And perhaps that's what Buffalo's front office is thinking as well. Taylor, who re-committed himself to the game early in his career after suffering a string of injuries and has stayed on the straight and narrow, might be able to serve as a mentor of sorts to Lynch who has encountered some off the field issues.
"Naturally in my character that automatically comes out," said Taylor of being a mentor. "I'm not saying that I'm not out to be a father figure to anyone, but I have kids and I know how I want to raise them. I know what I've gone through throughout my career in the NFL. So whatever I can do to help, I always speak to the guys through experience only. I try not to mislead somebody."
Taylor said the team did not make any comment to him about being a mentor to Lynch or anyone else in Buffalo's stable of backs, but his strong leadership skills and professionalism are well documented.
Having just turned 33 Taylor appears to recognize what his role is likely to be on any team that may sign him. He admits he'd like to pass Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list before retiring, but doesn't list it at the ultimate goal.
"I do want a ring," he said. "When you look at this team it's a team that started out great last year, and hit a few small hurdles, but the possibilities are still there. That makes my decision a little bit easier when it's time to decide where I'm going to go. I really feel like I've done well with my body and can get another two or three years in."
And in Buffalo where he wouldn't have to carry the majority of the load, it might just be what Taylor is looking for.
"They've got a talented corps of backs that I think myself being a veteran guy that's been around the block and learned some things from other guys, I think I can kind of pass some of that knowledge along to some of the younger guys like a Fred or a Marshawn. I really admire their skills and their talents. I've been checking them out for some time. They're very good. So it's a good opportunity."
That's what I wanted to do in Jacksonville. Unfortunately that's not going to happen, so it'll be somewhere else though."