The writing was on the wall for Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo -- and now the end is here for the two sides.
The Buffalo Bills have agreed to trade the quarterback to the Cleveland Browns, according to multiple reports. In return, the Bills have acquired the Browns top choice in the third round -- the 65th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Taylor, the Bills starter for the last three seasons, had one year left on his contract that carried a cap hit of approximately $18.1 million in 2018. By trading Taylor, the Bills have now rid themselves of nearly $10 million of that and are now only on the hook to this year's cap for around $8.6 million -- the same amount that they would have owed to the cap if they would have just released him.
In three seasons, Taylor threw for 8,857 yards and 51 touchdowns to just 16 interceptions. By sending Taylor to Cleveland, the Bills now have two first-round picks (21st and 22nd overall), two second-round picks (53rd and 56th overall), two third-round picks (65th and 96th overall), one fourth-round pick (121st overall) and two fifth-round picks (158th and 166th overall).
The trade cannot become official until the start of the new league year next week.
Joe B's Take
- The day that we've all expected to come this offseason is finally here -- the Bills have officially moved on from Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback of their team. Now, there are multiple layers to this news and I'll get to all of them. However, the most important layer of all?
If you didn't see all the signs, you better see them now. The Bills are going all in on trying to move up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to secure the quarterback that they covet the most.
Now with six selections in the first three rounds, the Bills have ample picks to not only move up the board with an enticing offer to the team that will move down, but they'll also have the ability to maintain a 'normal' draft, by having at least one draft pick in the first, second, and third round.
Perhaps even more important about this trade is what it signals. Since it occurred in the offseason, and only a week ahead of free agency, no less, this is as definitive a statement as we've seen by this Bills team that they do actually love one of the quarterbacks available in the draft.
Because now they are left with Nathan Peterman and nothing else on the quarterback depth chart. The Bills would not make this move to trade away a competent starter with a relatively low cap hit for quarterbacks without a definitive strategy in mind to replace. And that strategy, now with all of those picks, is written on the wall just the same with moving on with Tyrod: the Bills will do whatever it takes to move up and get the quarterback they love in the 2018 NFL Draft.
So while you've got some time this weekend, bust out the Youtube videos of USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Louisville's Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen of Wyoming -- because it's all ahead of the Bills now.
You might think that they could try and dip their toes into the free agent quarterback market, but Beane has also made it very clear that the compensatory pick formula is something he wants to utilize, and by signing a higher priced free agent at quarterback, that would effectively cancel out their top potential compensatory pick for the 2019 NFL Draft.
For a bridge quarterback, I'd expect them to consider trading for a lower-level quarterback (for example: Trevor Siemian), trying to sign a player recently released from his contract prematurely, or to wait until a couple of weeks after the draft to sign one when the compensatory formula can no longer be impacted.
As for the trade itself, you have to give a ton of credit to Bills GM Brandon Beane for pulling off this trade -- and getting the compensation that he did. It was clear that the Bills didn't have Taylor in their plans -- especially when they benched him in the middle of a winning year for an unproven rookie the week leading up to a road game against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Despite that, and despite the $6 million roster bonus coming due on March 16, the Bills managed to maximize the value of Taylor -- and they got one pick shy of a second-round pick. That, in itself, is a masterful job by the wheeling-and-dealing GM.
It certainly seemed like that $6 million roster bonus was a bit of an albatross, with them potentially having to eat it to try and maximize his value. Even if they had to do so, I certainly didn't expect to get them as much value as they did for Taylor. And to not even pay the roster bonus, you can compliment Beane enough for what he did.
As should be the case with teams in the NFL, the Bills new power duo of Sean McDermott and Beane backed up their words with action. They're not okay with just making the playoffs and that's it. They could have continued along with Taylor and hoped to get to similar levels, but they made the assessment that the solid, yet flawed quarterback would not get them where they ultimately wanted to go.
Where is that, you might ask?
To win a championship -- heck, maybe even a few. To do that in a quarterback-driven league, you need a player at that position that will define your team, and that will lead your team to a victory when things look bleak.
The Bills, at long last, are putting a premium on finally finding a franchise quarterback. It finally seems like they're in the hands of a GM and head coach that not only know what they're doing but are making moves with two or three moves down the line in mind.
The Tyrod Taylor era is officially no more. What they do at the quarterback position next will not only serve as a complete overhaul but will also define their tenure with the organization.
And Bills fans should be ecstatic about it.