As the Buffalo Bills head into the offseason, they could shed some significant cap space and upgrade at several positions. In our first look at positions where the Bills could release their 2017 starter, we look at quarterback and Tyrod Taylor.
(by Jeff Kantrowski aka Skarecrow)
Volume metrics already clearly show he’s below average. With 2,799 passing yards, he ranked 25th. Efficiency metrics like yards per attempt tell a similar story (6.7 y/a for 23rd place). There’s any other number of odd data points that have been beaten to death. You’ve seen ‘em all. Tyrod was 13th in QBR, 16th passer rating, 20th in ANY/A and so on.
Ultimately, the Bills’ offense fell well short of the mark in 2017 and this data does nothing to disprove that. The information above merely points out the relative effectiveness of six areas on the field in the passing game. As with all other Taylor discussions, the end result is that he’s got some really strong points and some really weak ones. Anyone committing to Taylor will need to scheme around flaws to make the most of his talents.
Salary cap ramifications
Taylor is due a $6 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year. It’s a clause written into the contract by Taylor’s agent to force the Bills’ hand; release him so he can sign with another team early enough to make a difference and some cash or pay him $6 million to wait around. It won’t allow Buffalo to sit back and see if they get the guy they want in the draft, but they may be able to get in under the wire with another free agent quarterback.
2018 cap hit: $18.08 million
Roster bonus due: $6 million
Salary due: $10 million
Dead Money: $8.64 million
Guaranteed offset: $1 million
Cap Savings: $10.44 million ($16 million post-June 1)
In-house replacement options
If Taylor is out of the picture in 2018, the next candidate to start would be Nathan Peterman, who started two games as a rookie while playing in four. However, Peterman isn’t ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, and might never end up as a successful starter.
The on-field performance matches the disappointing statistics. Peterman is exactly who he appeared to be during the preseason: He’s a smart quarterback who quickly makes decisions after reading the defense, but he sometimes trusts his initial read even when the defense was hiding its intentions, and he doesn’t have the arm strength to force all the throws he wants to make.
From a talent perspective, Peterman isn’t in the same neighborhood as Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, or any of the other quarterbacks Buffalo could take in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He hasn’t produced enough to lay claim to the starting job in his second season, and he can’t set a strong example for a rookie while holding down the fort as he develops.
Veteran replacement options
Kirk Cousins is the big name free-agent that teams will be lining up to get a shot at. If Buffalo is willing to fork over the big bucks, Cousins could be an instant upgrade in the QB spot.
Case Keenum led the 21st-best passing offense in the NFL and is heading into free agency at the end of this season. With Teddy Bridgewater finally healthy again, he might be the QB of Minnesota’s future and with Keenum’s production this season, I doubt he would re-sign to ride the bench. Sam Bradford was the Vikings starter last season and will probably be looking for a team where he can be the starter again in free agency. Minnesota probably can’t keep all three.
Alex Smith is still scheduled to be under contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, so the Bills would have to acquire him via trade. The Chiefs could get rid of Smith, get a few draft picks, and get more than a game manager in the process.
Jay Cutler is probably the last guy Bills fans want to see under center in 2018, but he’s one of the most experienced and successful free agent’s available.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may want to spend the last year or two back in his old stomping grounds, especially if he has an opportunity to compete to be the team’s starter.
2018 NFL Draft options
In order to draft either Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen, the Bills will need to execute some sort of trade for a top-five selection in the upcoming draft. Both prospects are equipped to be first-year starters at the position.
The second tier of Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Mason Rudolph contains those prospects that are not necessarily ready to start right away, but still have a decent chance of becoming a long-term starter at the position. There’s a chance that one or more of these prospects will be available when the Bills are on the clock in the first round, so a trade-up may not be required.
There are third-tier prospects that can be had on the second or third day of the draft, allowing the Bills to address other positions of need with their two first-round picks, while creating some competition behind a more established veteran starter.
With all the information now at your disposal, it’s time to make up your mind. You’re the brain trust at One Bills Drive. Which option is the best call? Discuss in the comments section, too.
What should the Buffalo Bills do this offseason at quarterback?
This poll is closed
Commit to Tyrod Taylor as the long-term starter with a contract extension
Keep Tyrod, add another veteran to compete with him
Keep Tyrod, draft the "franchise" QB of the future
QB competition between Tyrod and Nathan Peterman
Cut or trade Tyrod, add veteran QB, stick with Peterman
Cut or trade Tyrod, add veteran QB, draft "franchise" QB