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Tyrod Taylor’s contract is a bridge deal

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The Buffalo quarterback is betting on himself once again.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Tyrod Taylor has signed a short “prove-it” deal with the Buffalo Bills. The deal, which only lasts two seasons, will allow Taylor to show off his skills for the Buffalo Bills (or other NFL teams) as he vies for a bigger, longer term extension.

Yes, Taylor’s time with the team may be numbered. And the Bills may be preparing to move on by drafting a quarterback in April. Taylor’s new contract seems to suggest as much.

The Bills displayed a severe lack of confidence in Taylor, dating back to the end of the 2016 season, and at the start of the 2017 league year it was completely up in the air whether the team would keep him on his five year deal, trade him to another team, or cut him outright.

Ultimately, both sides agreed to a contract “renegotiation” to keep Taylor around for the 2017 season, but the statement from head coach Sean McDermott was hardly ironclad, noting that the decision was simply “the best move for the Bills at this time.”

With details for Taylor’s contract having surfaced on the wire courtesy of ESPN’s Mike Rodak and Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, we can now see this deal exactly for what it is: A bridge deal that makes it very unlikely the team sticks with Taylor beyond the 2017 season.

An extension in name only

The first thing you need to know about Taylor’s new deal: As was reported last week, the contract length has shrunk from a five year deal to a setup with two years remaining. The Bills negotiated a similar deal to Percy Harvin’s 2015 contract, building an agreement which automatically voids for the 2019 and future seasons after the 2018 league year’s Super Bowl.

An extremely reasonable 2017 cap number

As part of this contract restructure, Taylor gave up on the $27.5 million guarantee he would’ve been due from the team. He will only cost the team $9.7 million against the cap this season, caused by a $7.5 million fully guaranteed salary and a chunk of a prorated $7 million signing bonus.

Gearing up to move on in 2018?

It’s the 2018 contract that suggests that both parties are looking to move on after the 2017 season. Taylor has an $18.1 million cap number in 2018, but much of that can be avoided if he’s cut. Only $1 million of his base salary is guaranteed, and a $6 million roster bonus can be avoided by cutting him. He would also trigger dead money from his signing bonus, but thanks to reductions on that front, it would only cost $5.6 million (or $1.4 million if he were designated a post-June 1st cut).

Where does this lead?

By most indications, Taylor’s time with the Buffalo Bills is limited. He has a personality that leads him to gamble on himself, and with the Bills unconvinced that he can be a franchise quarterback, it seems likelier than ever that he’ll be playing for another team in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Bills only have one other quarterback on the roster: Ohio State project Cardale Jones. He has plenty of raw talent (which is why the Bills went for him in the first place), but there’s no guarantee that he’s ready to start this season or next. And beyond that, the team has no other options. A rookie addition in 2017 or 2018 seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.

Enjoy this season with Taylor at the helm, Bills fans. In all likelihood, he won’t be around much longer.