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A look at the Buffalo Bills quarterback position since the Jim Kelly era

We quickly summarize each QB on the Buffalo Bills since the last really good one.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Peterman will become the 17th quarterback to start a game for the Buffalo Bills since Jim Kelly departed the team in 1996 when he leads the team on the field today. Since his retirement, numerous attempts to find the next man to lead the team to greatness have had less than stellar results. With a new face to add to the list, and an era of mostly sub-par play that’s about to hit legal drinking age, we take a look back through the list for some bittersweet nostalgia that’s far more “bitter” than “sweet.”

Todd Collins

Selected in the second round of the 1995 NFL Draft, Collins was hand-picked to replace Kelly. The team quickly came to the conclusion that they had made the wrong choice in Kelly’s successor, releasing him after only a single (incomplete) season as the starter. Collins had a long career as a backup and fill-in starter, floating around the league until 2010, seeing time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, and the Chicago Bears.

Alex Van Pelt

Van Pelt came into the league in 1993 when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the 8th round of the NFL Draft. He found his way onto the Bills’ roster in 1994, with a stint in Kansas City tucked in there, as well. He started three games for the Bills in 1997, and made 8 starts in 2001, going 2-6 in those games. He retired after the 2003 season and found his way into coaching, including a stint with the Bills where he served as QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator.

Rob Johnson

After showing some promise with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Johnson was acquired by Buffalo for a first-and fourth-round draft pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Johnson’s tenure is notable for the quarterback controversy with the next name on the list, and also as the last Bills’ quarterback to start in a playoff game that we don’t really need to talk about. Johnson is also the second name on the list to have been replaced by the long-time Bill Alex Van Pelt.

Doug Flutie

The start of Flutie’s career foreshadowed his nomadic nature, as he was selected by the Los Angeles Rams but found his rights being traded to the Chicago Bears. Flutie became known for crossing the picket line to play during the now-infamous 1987 players’ strike, and didn’t find his way to the Bills until 1998 after spending time in New England and the Canadian Football League. Despite seeing more success than Rob Johnson, Flutie was cut from the Bills first but not before being repeatedly pushed aside for the underwhelming Johnson. Flutie’s 21 wins as starting quarterback rank fifth all-time in Bills’ history, and his 21-9 record, and his .700 winning percentage is tops among all Buffalo quarterbacks with at least 30 starts.

Drew Bledsoe

Bledsoe started with the New England Patriots in 1993, where he was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. He remained there for about a decade until he sustained a near-fatal injury against the New York Jets. His backup played well enough to make Bledsoe expendable, and he was traded to the Bills for the 2002 season. Despite solid to excellent performances from Bledsoe, the Bills never seemed to put it all together during his tenure.

J.P. Losman

The Bills traded back into the first round of the 2004 draft to select Losman, which was the first time they’d taken a quarterback in the first round since Kelly. Losman’s first season was lost to injury when Troy Vincent broke his leg during training camp. Losman played out his rookie contract in Buffalo, who made no effort to re-sign him after he failed to live up to expectations.

Kelly Holcomb

Holcomb started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 1995. He floated around the league until 2007 with a stop in Buffalo from 2005-2006. In his first season, he split starts with Losman but was never expected to be more than a veteran presence on the team. Holcomb was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional pick that was used to select a fan favorite, wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

Trent Edwards

Edwards was drafted by the Bills in the third round in 2007, and he replaced an injured Losman in Week 3 of that same year. Edwards led the Bills to a 17-14 victory over the New York Jets in that game. The two battled for the starting job thanks to comparable play and injuries, but Edwards won the battle outright the following season. Despite a promising start, Edwards’ career was derailed by injuries (concussion, groin) and he never returned to form.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick entered the league in 2005 as a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams, and he found his way to Buffalo in 2009. That year, he played backup to Edwards, but had strong showings filling in when Edwards was hurt. Edwards lost his starting job to Fitzpatrick after two poor outings in 2010, and Fitzpatrick held onto the starting job through the 2012 season. Fitzpatrick, who went to Harvard and wears his wedding band during games, has been all over the league as an adequate starter or solid backup for quarterback-hungry teams ever since.

Brian Brohm

Brohm was drafted in the second round by the Green Bay Packers in 2008. The Packers placed him on their practice squad for the 2009 season, where he remained through November of that year when the Bills signed him to replace Gibran Hamdan. His most notable achievement was being the quarterback who had the honor of throwing Terrell Owens his 1,000th reception.

EJ Manuel

Manuel was selected in the first round by the Bills during the 2013 draft after they traded back to acquire the pick that would vicariously turn into LeSean McCoy. Manuel was almost universally felt to be a project player, but was thrust into the starting role immediately thanks to a career-ending concussion suffered by projected starter Kevin Kolb in the preseason. Buffalo pulled the plug on Manuel as a starter after 14 games, and he departed to the Oakland Raiders during the 2017 offseason.

Thad Lewis

Thad Lewis has bounced around the league from 2010 through this offseason, where he signed with the Baltimore Ravens to back up Joe Flacco. He spent one year in Buffalo, having been signed due to a steady string of quarterback injuries in 2013. Lewis only had two victories in five starts as a Buffalo Bill, both coming against the Miami Dolphins.

Jeff Tuel

As a result of the injuries referenced above, Tuel almost started the first game of the 2013 season for the Bills. Manuel started that game, but Tuel played in his stead after Manuel was injured against the Cleveland Browns that same year. Tuel also started one game later in the season. Both games were losses. Tuel’s legacy remains that he gave up his number when the Bills welcomed Brian Moorman back to the team and showed exceptional prowess in his method acting techniques as the Scout Team QB.

Kyle Orton

Orton started his career with the Bears in 2005, and he retired in 2014 after two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. The Bills convinced him to come back to the league in August of that same year. After a 2-2 start with Manuel behind center, head coach Doug Marrone made the switch to Orton. The Bills finished with a 9-7 record, their first winning season in a decade.

Matt Cassel

Cassel started his career with the Patriots and was considered to be highly successful in 2008 while starting in place of Tom Brady, who missed the season due to injury. After some less successful seasons, Cassel found himself in a 3-way competition with EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor in 2015. Cassel technically started the first game of the season when he took the first snap behind center but Taylor played every other snap of the game as the QB. He was traded to Dallas almost immediately after.

Tyrod Taylor

Taylor took over for Cassel and remained the Bills starter until just this week. He came to the Bills via the Baltimore Ravens, where he served as Joe Flacco’s backup for four years. Taylor is known as one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the game, but he struggled to develop into a consistent passing threat.

Nathan Peterman

Nathan Peterman was a fifth-round selection of the Bills this year. He generated some preseason buzz due in no small part to contrasting skill sets with incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor. Peterman is expected to bring a more timing and anticipation-oriented skill set to the table than Taylor.

The Peterman era begins at 4 p.m. Eastern against the Los Angeles Chargers!