It appears that the Buffalo Bills will have a new starting quarterback under center in 2017 -- at least according to the latest report.
Since the Week 17 benching of starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, speculation has been rampant from the fan base about whether or not the team would pick up the player's option for a five-year contract extension, but one report on Friday sees the writing on the wall between the two sides.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills don't "have any intention of paying" the $30.75 million in guaranteed money that they would owe to Taylor for picking up his option. The report also confirms the growing sentiment around the franchise: The Bills are planning to move on from Tyrod Taylor as their quarterback.
Bills general manager Doug Whaley said at his end-of-season press conference at the beginning of the week that the new head coach would have a say in the decision on whether the team would be keeping Taylor. However, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly -- who still is deeply rooted in the organization -- went on ESPN mid-week and said the Bills did not have a franchise quarterback on their roster.
In two years of starting, Taylor held a 15-14 record for the Bills, throwing for 6,058 yards, 37 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Taylor also added 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing the ball in his time with the team.
With former first-round pick EJ Manuel set to become a free agent in the offseason, the move would leave the Bills with only one quarterback on the roster next season: 2016 fourth-round pick Cardale Jones, who was kept away from the field on game days for much of the field to help his development.
Joe B's Take
It became increasingly clearer that the Bills had no intentions of picking up the long-term option once they made the move to sit Taylor in the season finale in the now famed "business decision." Taylor brought life to the offense at times, helping them to solid numbers from a seasonal perspective in both years he started.
However, Taylor was Rex Ryan's guy, and the decision makers at One Bills Drive likely didn't like the fact that the offense disappeared at times in some big spots during the 2016 season -- whether it be against Baltimore, Miami in Week Seven, late in the game against Oakland, and Pittsburgh. His issues as a passer, whether it be not throwing players open, seeing the whole field enough to spot the weakness in defenses, or panicking in the pocket prematurely are all likely issues that the Bills' brass points to for the reason of the decision.
Is it the smart move?
If they're not sold on Taylor as the franchise guy, which quite frankly I'm not either, stepping away from the long-term extension is the right way to go. The Bills shouldn't just be complacent for a middle-of-the-road -- or even less than that as an option at quarterback in the league -- which is precisely what Taylor is.
They should yearn to be better at the position, and keep working -- by way of multiple swings at it -- to find that franchise quarterback that has eluded the Bills since Jim Kelly.
Multiple teams in 2016 said the game plan against Taylor was to 'make him be a quarterback.' And for the player, who will be turning 28 before the start of the 2017 season, the question about how long he can be an effective runner with father time working against him remains.
Now, the flaw in the Bills' plan to walk away from the option is simple: what do the Bills do at quarterback for the 2017 season, then?
The Bills could try and offer Taylor a reduced contract with a low number of years -- a deal full of incentives to help them get to their next destination at quarterback. However, the human side of the business comes into play here.
Why would Taylor want to come back and play for the front office that, in his words, took the starting job away from him -- especially when he'll likely garner a contract of equal or greater value on the open market with a different team?
The way they've handled the situation to this point, Tyrod might be inclined to think the grass is greener elsewhere.
If the Bills do walk away from Tyrod Taylor, as Adam Schefter reported that they plan to do, it makes sense to rip this whole operation right down to the baseboards. The rebuilding process would clearly not be ideal for winning in 2017... but with how many free agents they have, the fact that many of their top players under contract are nearing the end or at the tail end of their prime, a limited amount of cap space in regards to how many players are currently under contract, and now the quarterback news... it would make a lot of sense to start anew if there aren't any options to dramatically improve the quarterback spot over Taylor in the coming offseason.
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