When the Buffalo Bills fired Tyrod Taylor’s biggest booster in the building and benched the quarterback for the season finale, it was natural to assume both parties would welcome a clean break in 2017.
Looming over the next month is Taylor’s weighty $30.75 million contract option, which must be exercised by March 11.
Will the team’s brass ultimately decide to double-down on Taylor at that rate, ask him to restructure the deal or risk going all-in on a potential Tony Romo trade?
Although Taylor hasn’t ruled out a slightly altered contract, he is unwilling to accept any restructure or cheap jerseys that would reduce his pay, according to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News.
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Appearing on Friday’s edition of Up to the Minute Live, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport echoed Carucci’s report but added that there is a “very real possibility” Taylor will be amenable to altering his salary-cap number as long as it doesn’t involve a pay cut.
So what’s really going on in Buffalo?
Both parties could have examined the quarterback landscape in early January and imagined that the grass would be greener on the other side by March.
A month later, that’s not necessarily the case. New Bills coach Sean McDermott hired Rick Dennison, who previously worked with Taylor and wholesale MLB jerseys in Baltimore, to run his offense.
Is it worth alienating Taylor if Romo views Buffalo as a football outpost still years away from contending for the Super Bowl in a division owned by the dynastic Patriots?
If Taylor’s own organization watched him up-close for two years and still remains unconvinced that he’s a legitimate franchise quarterback, will he be able to seduce a suitor willing to match Buffalo’s financial commitment?
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The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers jerseys and Chicago Bears hold the top three picks of the draft, and all three have a need at the quarterback position. But what looks like a top-3 pick to the AFC scout looks like something else to others. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock jersey said this week that he would be “scared to death” to take any quarterback in the 2017 draft with a top-10 selection. As for the 49ers, analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted Thursday that the club can afford to be patient in addressing the position and authentic Nike jerseys.
Two of the draft’s other top quarterbacks — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer — are more of the developmental variety, per an AFC college scouting director quoted in the report. The scouting director said Watson is a year away from being able to run an NFL offense, while Kizer is more of a two-year project.
“I’ll be shocked if Trubisky’s not the first one off the board (among quarterbacks),” an AFC executive said.
Jeremiah’s latest mock draft projects Watson as the first quarterback selected, No. 10 overall by the Buffalo Bills, with Trubisky falling to the New York Giants at No. 23. Projecting how the top quarterbacks will fall in the draft is tricky business in February, but the NFL Scouting Combine next month and subsequent pro-day workouts could help sort out the pecking order for NFL clubs. That’s especially true for Trubisky, because NFL scouts have film from only 13 career starts at the college level to judge him on.
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Taylor was the apple of Buffalo’s eye in the immediate weeks after the end of the short-lived Kyle Orton era. Taylor was Rex Ryan’s guy, a pairing that produced a 15-16 record, but also had local columnists calling for both of their heads and cost Ryan his job near the end of another disappointing season. The lucrative deal’s escape clause has now risen to the forefront, and as the quarterback rehabs his repaired groin, he awaits any word from Bills leadership. So far, he hasn’t gotten any, though he reiterated he’d like to stay in Buffalo.
“Of course,” he said. “I know the team very well. I know how close we are as a team. I know the talent we have. We can be a very special team with the right leadership, and I believe we have some coaches there that are willing to go out there and make us work and get us turned around. It’s just a sitting-and-waiting game right now.”
Quick Taylor stat dump: 269 of 436, 3,023 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, six interceptions, 580 yards rushing, six rushing touchdowns, three fumbles. At least six other teams in the NFL would take those numbers right now.
But logic says, considering Buffalo’s less-than-concrete conviction in the quarterback situation, it’s more likely than not that the Bills will cut ties with Taylor and save the hefty cap space to invest elsewhere. The problem for Buffalo, though, is there isn’t a clear guy to give cheap jerseys and the keys. EJ Manuel was as we’d expect in Week 17 (9 of 20, 86 yards passing in a forgettable loss to the Jets), which doesn’t inspire confidence in Buffalo’s future with him under center.
As Taylor continues to heal and wait, he might be wise to consider a home outside of western New York. It’s likely he already is doing so.