Heading into the offseason, the biggest question facing the Buffalo Bills has been what to do about the quarterback position, the most important position on the roster. While the rumors around incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor have focused on his being released before he is due a $6 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year, a new report by Ian Rapoport, a national insider for NFL Network and NFL.com, says that rather than cutting Taylor outright, the Bills are pushing hard to trade their starting quarterback.
“My understanding, though...Doesn’t seem like they want to cut Tyrod,” Rapoport said on an NFL Total Access episode. “Seems like the Bills would like to trade him, just based on how much quarterbacks are going for and how much interest, seems Buffalo will be able to do so.”
The pros and cons of Taylor, who has a 23-21 career record in 44 games over three seasons as the team’s starting quarterback, have been widely discussed. On the field, Taylor ranked 25th in the league in passing yardage (2,799 passing yards). Using efficiency metrics like yards per attempt tell a similar story (6.7 y/a for 23rd place).
Taylor will always have his supporters who rely on his lack of turnovers (1.0 interception percentage) and his ability to scramble (427 rushing yards while averaging 5.1 yards per rush). He finished 2017 ranking 13th in QBR, 16th in passer rating, 20th in adjusted net yards/passing attempt, etc. Not figures of an elite quarterback, as Pro Football Focus graded Taylor 14th with a grade of 83.
Taylor carries an $18 million cap hit in 2018 if the Bills keep him on their roster. While that price tag seems rather high, in a quarterback-starved league where Jimmy Garappolo recently received a five-year deal with a max value of $137.5 million (with guaranteed money of approximately $74 million), and where Alex Smith, 33, received a new four-year, $94 million contract ($71 million guaranteed) from the Washington Redskins, Taylor’s figure isn’t that exorbitant.
Should the Bills decide to pursue a quarterback in free agency, Kirk Cousins is almost certain to receive an offer in the ballpark of what Garoppolo received. Other free agents, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, A.J. McCarron, and Case Keenum, will also command top dollar on the open market, which means that Buffalo’s front office might turn to Taylor as a better (and more affordable) option than overpaying for a free agent.
Taylor is what he is, someone who can keep plays alive with his legs and who won’t throw a back-breaking interception, but he also has become worse on his deep throws, and too often couldn’t find the open receiver if it wasn’t his first read on a play.
The end result? Taylor possesses some desirable strengths to go with some noticeable weaknesses. Odds don’t look good for Taylor returning under center in 2018, much less receiving a contract extension from Buffalo, though the decision to fire offensive coordinator Rick Dennison COULD open the door for one final season with Taylor at QB.
If the team is unable to receive what it perceives as fair value for Taylor in a trade, it’s looking more likely that Taylor would retain his starting position, at least at the beginning of 2018.