After much discussion, the contract extension for Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was finalized and signed today. With preliminary numbers arriving for what appears to be a great contract for the Buffalo Bills and potentially Taylor as well, let's take a look at Taylor's new contract based on reported information by Albert Breer.
As Chris wrote earlier, the contract is essentially a one year, $9.5 million contract, with a team option for the next five years. Those next five years contain a whopping $82.5 million and form the vast majority of the reported six year, $92 million contact. In 2016, Taylor gets a much deserved raise of $6.5 million.
So for Taylor, as a practical matter, this is a 1-year, $9.5M deal or a 3-year, $50M deal. Bills control from '19-'21 at a total of $42M.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 12, 2016
More on Taylor's deal: Bump to $9.5M for '16; $15.5M option bonus due next March, with a $12M base for '17, $13M for '18. $50M over first 3.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 12, 2016
Despite that increased 2016 pay, this contract (based on all reported numbers as of today) appears to be a home run (really a grand slam) for the Bills. The contract is an incredible win in two different ways.
The first success of the contract is the creation of the team option and limited pay increase for Taylor in 2016. Taylor deserved a raise on his 2016 salary and received one. But $9.5 million is still relatively small change for an NFL starting QB and Taylor's 2016 cap hit of $9.63 million ranks 23rd among quarterbacks. If Taylor regresses or is continually injured to the point where the Bills don't feel as though they can rely on him, again assuming all reported information is accurate, the team can cut ties with Taylor after 2016. Taylor was (at worst) a top-half of the league starter last year in his first season as a starter. It was amazing business by the Bills to retain his services for another year at a reasonably low cost, with no long-term commitment.
The second, and most likely much more important, success of the contract is just looking at the overall value. The new money on Taylor's deal is reportedly $90 million, creating a "new money" average value of $18 million. This new money equals out with the average received by Brock Osweiler from the Houston Texans in March. But the "new money" calculation ignores Taylor's low 2016 salary. When included, the contract averages $15.5 million per year, while Osweiler's "new money" and actual money calculations both equal $18 million per year. Additionally, Osweiler received $37 million in guaranteed money. According to Breer, Taylor also has "guaranteed" money, but his is only injury-based and would require a career ending injury to be paid. Without that, Taylor is only really guaranteed the $9.5 million that the Bills are paying him in 2016.
The almost below-market totals on the contract make it much more likely that the Bills will exercise the future years than not and if the Bills do so, 2017 will be a great year for Tyrod Taylor and his family. In 2017, the Bills will pay a $15.5 million option bonus as well as a salary of $12 million, giving Taylor $27.5 million in total 2017 compensation. For comparison, Osweiler received $21 million in the first year of his contract. Assuming the option bonus is converted to a signing bonus and prorated, Taylor's 2017 cap hit will be just over $15 million, still only 18th in the NFL. The 2017 payments are essentially a deferral of the massive payments that are generally made in the first year of big money contracts. In 2018, Taylor will receive $14 million in salary - creating a three-year total of $50 million. Osweiler's three year total is $55 million. As all of the guaranteed money will be gone by 2018, the only factor preventing the Bills from cutting Taylor at that point would be the acceleration of dead money that would exist from the assumed conversion and proration of the 2017 option bonus.
The last three years of the contract only contain $42 million. It seems unlikely that those three years will ever be paid as signed now. If Taylor is very good, he will demand and in all likelihood receive a new extension providing new guaranteed money and increased total pay and if Taylor is bad, he will be cut.
As I said above, based on what has been reported, this contract is amazing for the Bills. Taylor will receive a much larger 2016 salary and the potential for a very lucrative, if maybe below-market, contract in the future, but this contract has to be looked at as very team-friendly and a significant win in what has been an injury-plagued offseason for the Bills.