As if the end of this 2016 NFL season could be any weirder for the Buffalo Bills, Vic Carucci dropped this bomb on us at practice today:
For the past month, #Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has fought thru a severe groin injury that could need more attention in offseason. Stay tuned.— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) December 29, 2016
Previously, Carucci had speculated that Taylor was in “exit-strategy mode,” missing practice merely to show his displeasure with the “business decision” to remove him from the starting lineup for Sunday’s meaningless season finale against the New York Jets.
If this report is true, it would add another layer of intrigue to the scenario. It already made some sense to sit Taylor from a business standpoint, as any serious injury would lead to a guarantee of Taylor’s 2017 and 2018 salaries ($25 million in injury guarantees, and $27.5 million in the form of option bonuses if the Bills decide to exercise the option on Taylor’s contract). However, if he is already injured and was playing through pain, it makes much more than just business sense for him to sit on Sunday. With the Bills mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, sitting Taylor in favor of EJ Manuel makes sense from a football standpoint, as well.
With Taylor’s health in doubt, and the language in his contract up for interpretation, the Bills could have a pretty messy scenario on their hands throughout the offseason. If Taylor’s option is not exercised, and he remains on the roster after the 4th day of the 2017 league year, his salary becomes fully guaranteed. If the option is exercised, his guarantee drops to $12 million. If Taylor is injured and the rehab for said injury drags into the 2017 league year, his contract would be guaranteed for both 2017 and 2018. If he’s healthy at that time and the team decides to cut him by then, the Bills owe him nothing.
Taylor has been on the injury report before, even prior to last week’s game with a groin injury, but was always listed as having participated and was never in doubt to play. This should cover the Bills from any fines or violations of the league’s policy on reporting injuries throughout the season.
However, in a somewhat strange turn of events — for the Bills, maybe not so strange — Carucci sent out this tweet after practice:
Tyrod Taylor had a veteran's day off from practice, according to a #Bills spokesman.— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) December 29, 2016
During his press conference with the media, Lynn did say he gave Taylor a veteran’s day off, and gave this reasoning:
#Bills interim HC Anthony Lynn said the reason Tyrod Taylor didn't practice was bc he wanted him to "be off his feet."— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) December 29, 2016
Whatever happens, this is a story that’s sure to develop in the days and weeks to come. We’ll keep updating you all as often as we learn new details.