While several options exist for the Buffalo Bills and Tyrod Taylor over the next few weeks, one that has been suggested by many fans is a pay cut or restructured contract for the quarterback. The team can also pick up his option or decline his option.
In his weekly mailbag yesterday, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News noted that Taylor is “unwilling to agree to a restructured contract that would reduce his pay,” primarily because his camp is “firmly convinced they would receive every bit as much as the Bills would have to pay in accordance with the extension -- if not more -- in the open market.”
This is probably an accurate sentiment. Taylor’s extension is for five years and pays out $90 million, numbers that are very low in comparison with the average starting quarterback in today’s market. The average annual value of $18 million per season ties for 16th among current quarterback deals, with several quarterbacks (such as Matt Stafford, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota) poised to overtake that number during the life of Taylor’s extension.
Several quarterback-needy teams are flush with cap space this offseason and could easily afford to pay Taylor more than the Bills are set to offer with plenty of room to spare. The top two teams in that regard are the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, both of whom could take a somewhat proven veteran in Taylor over the uncertainty of a quarterback at the top of the draft. The Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos also have plenty of room and a need under center, while the Washington Redskins could opt to pursue a deal with Taylor over giving what figures to be a much larger one to incumbent starter Kirk Cousins.
One option that has been discussed is restructuring the contract without necessarily reducing Taylor’s salary at all. It’s unclear from Vic’s comment whether Taylor is open to reducing the paycheck that would be due to him while increasing his future compensation in the form of roster bonuses, something the Bills have done in the past under Doug Whaley. Taylor would need to be willing to take a lower total up front while risking losing some “prove-it” money down the road, something he did in signing the contract he’s on but might not be willing to do again.
Later on in the mailbag, Carucci admits that “it's probably a bit presumptuous to view Taylor's departure from the Bills as a given.” While national outlets have taken Taylor’s departure as all but certain, Vic points out that new head coach Sean McDermott has played his cards close to the chest so far with regards to his new starting quarterback. Most of the assumptions around Taylor derive from the end of last season, but if McDermott wants to keep Taylor around strongly enough he could (and should) have his wish granted. While McDermott hasn’t made his feelings known publicly one way or the other, his hiring of Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator was viewed as a sign that he might want to keep Taylor around.
The deadline for a decision is March 12th when the $27.5 million guarantee kicks in. We have a month to go before this situation reaches its conclusion.