What the new Tyrod Taylor contract means for the Bills

Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 14, 2017

It was a little less than a week ago that the Buffalo Bills made their decision on starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- and once they did, it was also announced that Taylor had restructured his contract.

As we all well know, patience is a virtue, but it had to be practiced until the details of Taylor's new contract came out. Well, at long last, they're out -- and the specifics of the deal will make for an incredibly interesting 2017 season.

The one thing that becomes clear with the new contract: the Bills officially got their wish in every way possible.

The Details

The Bills signed Taylor to the restructured contract, which automatically voided the five-year option that the two parties originally agreed upon.

It goes from a five-year pact essentially to a two-year deal. The final three years of the deal automatically void, but due to the structure of the contract, the prorated signing bonuses would continue out and if the two parties split ahead of the 2019 season, Taylor would keep a dead money hit. The signing bonus from the original extension also carries over, which bumps up some of the dead money as well.

The only guaranteed money is his base salary in 2017 ($7.5M), his new signing bonus ($7M), and $1 million of his base salary in the 2018 season.

This is how the contract is structured with cap hits, according to multiple reports:

2017 Cap Hit: $9,713,334 ($7.5M base salary, $2,213,334 prorated signing bonuses from both contracts)

2018 Cap Hit: $18.08 million ($10M base salary, $2.08M prorated signing bonuses from both contracts, $6M roster bonus)

2019 Cap Hit: $5.56 million (dead money from prorated signing bonuses due to final three years being automatically voided)


What the contract means for the 2017 season

It's pretty cut and dry.

Since the deal is fully guaranteed for this season, Tyrod Taylor will be in Buffalo and likely serve as the starting quarterback for the upcoming year. Taylor took a significant pay cut from his original option to stay in Buffalo, with yet another chance to prove his worth to the rest of the NFL.

What the contract means for the 2018 season

That the Bills can walk away before the season, which is something that they wouldn't have been able to do if the original option on Taylor had been picked up. Now, the only amount they'll owe to the cap -- if released ahead of the new league year in 2018 -- is a total of $8.64 million ($1 million guaranteed from base salary, plus the final four years of prorated signing bonuses).

If they had just kept him on his original option and wanted to walk away ahead of 2018, his dead money attached to the cap would have been $17.69 million. With the restructure, the Bills are saving themselves over $9 million if they want to get away from Tyrod Taylor ahead of 2018.

While the $8.64 million is still a substantial cap hit, it remains a much more plausible idea to release Taylor next offseason -- more so than it would have been if they just picked up the option.

What the contract means for all parties moving forward

This is a humongous victory for the Bills.

They got the guy they wanted in 2017, and the flexibility to walk away at the end of the season if they really want to -- which is the scenario they had to be dreaming of.

Now, the Bills have the ability to draft a quarterback in the hopes that the player turns into their next franchise quarterback. And by bringing Taylor back, they don't have to feel any pressure to play that player in the 2017 season -- whether they draft him in the first or second round of the draft.

If the board doesn't fall their way to pick up a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, then the combination of Taylor's contract along with the Bills much bigger cap space in 2018, they could draft one in the following year, keep Taylor on board, and allow the rookie to learn during the 2018 season.

Either way, all signs point to the Bills addressing the quarterback position -- significantly -- at some point in the next two drafts.

They can also do so without any false pretense of Taylor being their long-term starter, which is why it was smart for head coach Sean McDermott to use the term "at this time" in both the team statement and whenever asked by reporters about the decision to have Taylor as their quarterback.

This, in essence, is a bridge deal and the Bills got exactly what they wanted all along: The best of both worlds.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia