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A quick look at the Buffalo Bills backup quarterback situation

A lot has happened over the last few days, so it’s a good time to see where everybody stands on the depth chart.

Tyrod Taylor is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss the Bills’ depth chart at quarterback.

The day before training camp opened, everything seemed pretty settled. Veteran T.J. Yates, who played under Bills’ offensive coordinator Rick Dennison with the Houston Texans from 2011-13, was in the driver’s seat for the backup role. The third-string spot was going to be a competition between rookie fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman and second-year man Cardale Jones, with the loser finding themselves cut at the end of the preseason.

That all went up in flames Wednesday night, when the Bills traded Jones to the Los Angeles Chargers for a seventh-round pick in 2019. It was something of a surprise, but not an altogether unexpected move. It was widely predicted that Jones would have been the odd man out had he stayed, given that he was the only one of the four who signed his current contract while Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan were still running the show.

In fact, when the Bills’ brass spoke about the trade they emphasized the opportunity that Cardale will receive with the Chargers. Head coach Sean McDermott noted that his “predecessor,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, is familiar with Jones from their time together last year. General manager Brandon Beane called the trade a “win-win,” because the Bills get a draft pick, the Chargers get a backup quarterback, Jones gets a landing spot where he can succeed, and Peterman gets the reps he needs.

Beane went so far as to say the Bills would have done Jones “a disservice” by keeping him around. McDermott also emphasized his confidence in the quarterbacks still on the roster. Those statements solidify the theory that Jones was more than likely the odd man out in the race for a roster spot.

Now we (presumably) have the names finalized, but what about the order? McDermott threw some folks for a loop yesterday when he sent out Peterman for some work with the second-team offense. The coach was quick to point out that it was more of an evaluation opportunity than a reflection of anybody’s performance, but he was complimentary of Peterman nonetheless, saying:

“You know, a smart football player, it’s important to him. You see that it matters to him that when things go well and when things don’t go well. The part I loved [Friday] was he had a play that didn’t go well and he came back and was mentally tough and put the ball right on the numbers the next time. That’s the type of maturity, that’s the type of mental approach that’s important to have in this game and at the quarterback position, specifically.”

In the end, it’s unlikely Peterman is going to supplant Yates (who had a nice touchdown throw to Rod Streater Saturday) as the number two guy anytime soon. He’ll have plenty of time to develop over the course of the preseason, but unless the veteran completely implodes in August he’ll be the one who dresses on game day.

That said, let’s not forget: Tyrod Taylor is the unquestioned starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.