(WKBW) - When it comes to Tyrod Taylor, the general school of thought was that the Buffalo Bills were likeliest to make a decision on the quarterback by March 16 — the third day of the league year.
On that day, the Bills will be due to pay Taylor a $6 million roster bonus which not only must be paid but also has to be attached to the salary cap. However, that notion won’t necessarily prevent them from hanging on to Taylor past that date, according to the latest report.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said that “at this point, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to cut him without knowing who his replacement will be.” Rapoport also went on to say the Bills would be fine with paying him the $6 million roster bonus.
Joe B’s Take - While it isn’t an ideal scenario for the Bills to have to pay out a $6 million roster bonus — it’s one that not only leaves their options open — but also gives the appearance that they would want to hang on to him.
However, there are still a lot of outs for both this report to be true — which I have no doubt about whatsoever, and for the Bills to still relinquish Taylor ahead of his big roster bonus being due. And there is plenty of time between now and that day — and key markers on the NFL calendar that could still pave the way to a parting of the ways.
Between now and March 16, there are several avenues for the Bills to find a potential short-term replacement at quarterback. They could find a player to trade for… perhaps someone like Denver’s Trevor Siemian who will be in the final year of a low rookie contract. And while the trade won’t become official until the start of the new league year, it doesn’t prevent teams from agreeing in principle.
There is also the chance that another team releases one of their own quarterbacks still with years to go on the contract. That would allow the Bills to try and sign that player, find a short-term option at quarterback, and not have it count toward their compensatory formula for the 2019 NFL Draft.
On top of all that, the window for teams to negotiate with impending free agents opens up on March 12, and then teams can sign those players starting on March 14 at 4:00 pm — giving the Bills a full four days to both negotiate and sign a potential Taylor replacement to a contract before that roster bonus would become due.
Make no mistake, the goal for the Bills should still be to somehow get Taylor off of their roster ahead of the $6 million roster bonus coming due, because by doing so it would complicate their cap situation less. This could also be an effort to try and facilitate a trade involving Taylor, so they could get some compensation to a quarterback that can start some games signed to a fairly friendly contract in the 2018 season.
The team trading for him ahead of March 16 would be on the hook for a $16 million cap hit for the 2018 season.
The other option that exists would be the Bills paying out the $6 million roster bonus on March 16, so that it would make Taylor a much more appealing option on the trade market to another team. If the Bills ate that bonus, that would mean the team trading for Taylor would only have a cap hit of $10 million for the quarterback — and that $6 million could be the difference between not being able to move him, and moving him for a mid-to-late round pick.
In a year where they aren’t likely to be really active in free agency, they can afford to eat that bonus in the upcoming season — considering they’re most likely to build from the ground up through the draft. The ultimate goal is to find the long-term option at quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft, and that will continue to be the case regardless of the last year's starting quarterback.
All in all, this report is one that declared that the Bills are keeping their options open and haven’t yet made a decision on the short-term future of Tyrod Taylor.
However, as you can see, there are plenty of outs.