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Potential Bills Free Agent: QB Cleo Lemon

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Is Lemon a Plan B at QB? (NFL.com)

It might be the most-discussed decision facing the Buffalo Bills this off-season: should the club trade its backup quarterback, J.P. Losman? After Losman publicly expressed his desire to be dealt, potential trade scenarios popped up left and right. The consensus at this point, however, is that it's likely that Losman will have to play out his contract as Trent Edwards' backup next season. Still, there should be a contingency plan in the event that an irresistible offer surfaces for Losman.

One highly speculated name that's brought up frequently as a potential replacement for Losman is the Dolphins' Cleo Lemon. The first time I read that name as a potential Bill, the involuntary twitch caused an unfortunate coffee spill. But who am I, as a Bills fan, to make public claims that Lemon would be the worst signing in Bills history? "We'd need a Dolphin fan to do that," I said to myself (not an uncommon occurrence). And it just so happens that I know an incredibly knowledgeable Dolphins fan, who had a lot to say about Lemon.

The Phinsider's Take
We've featured interviews with Matty I, of The Phinsider fame, many times here. He's a Dolphins fan, sure, but his reporting is completely objective, which makes him a friend to the site. Yes, we're friends with a Dolphins fan. He was kind enough to set the record straight - hopefully, for once and for all - on Lemon.

Trent Green has been released, and question marks (probably unfairly) surround John Beck. What does the future hold for Lemon with Parcells on board?

Cleo is an unrestricted free agent and I am 99.9% sure he's done in Miami. And not a moment too soon, if you ask me. If I had to guess, I'd say there's a good chance Cleo ends up in Baltimore, reuniting with Cam Cameron for a third stint together. And you know what? Those two deserve each other. Good riddance!

What is your opinion on Lemon as a player? Do you think he's a borderline starter, or just a backup that can win you a few games during stretches?

As you can tell from my previous comments, I'm not a very big fan of Cleo. When you consider his physical tools as well as his ability to read defenses and make decisions, I'd say Lemon is, at best, an average backup quarterback. He's inaccurate, makes terrible decisions, fumbles, takes really bad sacks at the most inopportune times, and, worst of all, is a really crappy teammate. What I mean by a "bad teammate" is that he is somebody who feels he is better than he is. So he will often come off as a guy who doesn't support his teammates.

Example #1: When John Beck made his first start against the Eagles and lost 17-7 (in bad weather), Cleo told reporters after the game that he was standing on the sidelines imagining himself leading the Dolphins on a key touchdown drive to win the game. When asked about how he felt John played, he said, "I can't speak on anybody else's performance. I can only speak on what I can give to this team." Example #2: I have it on a good authority from a very reliable source that Lemon didn't attempt to help John out at all. The one story I was told was about after his game against the Jets in which John struggled, he, Trent Green, and Casey Bramlett chatted after the game at the stadium for over an hour, analyzing how John could have played better and what he needs to work on and such. Where was Cleo Lemon? Nowhere to be found. He left the stadium as soon as he could. Yeah, thanks for nothing, Cleo.

Personally, as somebody who roots against the Bills, I could only dream that Cleo Lemon would sign with Buffalo and pollute your team with his garbage play and garbage personality. But, alas, I think the Bills are too smart to make that mistake.

Discussion Time
Well then. Don't hold back, Matty. Clearly, we were already aware that Lemon was a flawed player. Matty touched on his turnovers and bad decisions; these were flaws that Bills fans were already aware of. His vast playing experience made him an attractive backup option; however, with light shed on Lemon's sour character (pardon that extraordinarily awful pun), it's clear that Lemon would not be a helpful backup for Trent Edwards to lean on. That's what Edwards needs at this point - a veteran who doesn't necessarily have years and years of experience (and a tutoring degree to boot), but who just does things the right way, day in and day out. Losman gives us that. Lemon wouldn't.

Is Lemon the most attractive free agent option available? Does this report change your mind about Buffalo's possibly trading Losman this off-season? What do you think the Bills should be looking for in a back-up quarterback if Losman is moved? These are all questions we'd love for you to leave your thoughts on in the comments section.

Dolphins QB Cleo Lemon
Year G CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD INT Rate
2006 4 38 68 55.9 412 6.1 2 1 77.6
2007 9 173 309 56.0 1773 5.7 6 6 71.0
TOT 13 211 377 56.0 2158 5.8 8 7 72.2