Under the sub-heading, “Is Tyrod Taylor's time in Buffalo over?” this is what Schefter wrote:
When the Bills didn't play quarterback Tyrod Taylor in their regular-season finale on Sunday against the New York Jets, it sent the message that the team does not intend to pick up the $15.5 million option bonus in his contract that they have until March 11 to exercise.
Picking up the option would guarantee Taylor $30.75 million over the life of the contract, tying him to Buffalo for the next five seasons, and the Bills don't have any intention of paying it.
Buffalo is instead planning to move on from Taylor, despite the fact that their scoring has increased dramatically since he arrived. The year before he got to Buffalo, the Bills were 26th, and they've been 10th and 11th the two years he has started. He's clearly a huge part of the difference.
He was also seventh in Total QBR last year, and ninth this year. People in that company get major dollars.
Schefter is the most reliable, trustworthy NFL insider on planet Earth. When he writes “Buffalo is instead planning to move on from Taylor,” it carries significant weight. And although the — with Schefter, ubiquitous — word “source” isn’t included in that sentence, one can infer it’s not simply his opinion.
However, his first sentence, “When the Bills didn't play quarterback Tyrod Taylor in their regular-season finale on Sunday against the New York Jets, it sent the message that the team does not intend to pick up the $15.5 million option bonus in his contract that they have until March 11 to exercise” reads much more like his personal opinion and is open to interpretation.
Of course, if the Bills had every intention of picking up Tyrod’s option and having him as their starting quarterback in 2017, they would’ve played him against the Jets in the meaningless season finale. But just because that is true doesn’t mean the opposite is as well.
Meaning... Tyrod not playing means the Bills don’t intend to pick up the option. I just don’t think it’s that cut and dry.
By not playing Tyrod against the Jets, the Bills may have been protecting themselves against the injury guarantee in his contract. Yes, you’ve probably read that before. But going deeper on this, the “protection” I’m referring to may not have been centered around simply trying to avoid paying the fully guaranteed $27.5M if / when they cut him.
If Tyrod’s groin injury got worse or he suffered another serious injury against Gang Green, the looming injury guarantee would’ve essentially given the next head coach no flexibility when deciding who’d play the most important position for his new team. Simply put, the Bills may have not wanted to force Tyrod on the next head coach.
If Tyrod did play and get hurt, head-coach interviews would have gone like something like this:
Bills: Ok, well, so, I don’t know how to really say this, but, ummm, if you don’t like Taylor as your quarterback, we’ll have to pay him a ton of money not to be on the team next year, so, ummm, yeah, we really don’t want do to that. So he’s your quarterback. Sorry, we shouldn’t have played him in that meaningless season finale.”
By keeping Tyrod on the sidelines, the next head coach has freedom to say “I want him as my quarterback, pick up the option” or “nope, don’t like his style of play, cut him loose” without the Bills’ organization taking a monster cap hit for another team’s player.
(Reminder: There are offsets in Tyrod’s contract, so even if the Bills cut him, he doesn’t pass a physical and the injury guarantee kicks in, Buffalo will pay him the difference of $27.5M minus whatever he makes with his next team. And, yes, that next team could, in theory, pay him the veteran minimum to stick to to the Bills, but the likely bidding war for Tyrod will drive up his price. Credit Tom Mitchell and MRW here. And if the Bills believe he’d sign a mega deal elsewhere, the injury guarantee isn’t nearly as frightening from a financial standpoint.)
Without question, Schefter writing “Buffalo is instead planning to move on from Taylor” line is ominous for those, including myself, who believe the Bills should pick up Tyrod’s option.
But I just don’t think the “business decision” to sit him against the Jets automatically means the Bills are done with him.