Most discussion surrounding the 2017 Buffalo Bills has centered on the quarterback position; specifically, will the team keep Tyrod Taylor or not. Less discussion has focused on what to do with the men behind Taylor: EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones.
Jones is a near-lock to make the roster next season, as the plan was always to let him sit and develop from the practice field. On the other side of that coin is Manuel, who is as near a lock to be off the Bills’ roster in 2017 as any player. This leaves the Bills with a second quarterback question: What do they do about the second man on the depth chart? Pro Football Focus writer William Moy believes that the Bills should target Brian Hoyer.
Moy’s reasoning is simple. Whether the Bills decide to keep Tyrod Taylor or not, Hoyer serves a purpose. Hoyer has proven himself to be a solid backup, and Moy feels that he could also serve as a “serviceable stopgap” starter until the Bills find their “franchise” player. Moy notes that he doesn’t think the Bills should move on from Taylor—neither do I, for what it’s worth—but he notes that Hoyer could be a reasonable option if the team chose to do so.
To put it mildly, Hoyer would be an underwhelming option if the Bills went into 2017 with him as the presumed starter at the quarterback position. However, the team could certainly do worse. In five starts for the Chicago Bears last season, Hoyer completed 67% of his passes for 1,445 yards, throwing 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 200 attempts. (Hoyer relieved Jay Cutler in a sixth game, as well.) As a member of the Houston Texans in 2015, he completed 60.7% of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while compiling 2,606 yards through the air. He also started a playoff game that year, melting down at an epic rate along with the rest of the 2015 Texans. Hoyer was 15-34 in the team’s 30-0 home playoff loss to Kansas City, throwing 4 interceptions and amassing only 136 yards.
In 31 career starts, Hoyer’s numbers are similar to, but not quite as strong as, Tyrod Taylor’s. He would be a downgrade if acquired to be the starting quarterback. However, Hoyer would be a significant upgrade over EJ Manuel if he were to accept the backup job in Buffalo at a reasonable salary. With other teams possibly far more desperate than Buffalo to acquire a veteran starting quarterback (San Francisco comes to mind, here), it is unlikely that Buffalo would pay the salary that Hoyer could command on the open market. If the opportunity arises, and the price is right, it is certainly something worth exploring. Though not a direct tie, Hoyer had his finest pro season running Kyle Shanahan’s system in Cleveland in 2014. It’s a West Coast offense very similar to the one Bills’ offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will use in 2017.
If nothing else, the speculation is out there that the Bills will at least be in the market for a veteran quarterback this offseason.