With the NFL Scouting Combine in full swing, the Buffalo Bills are one of 32 teams in Indianapolis evaluating the next generation of NFL hopefuls. While the rookies and potential draft picks were a big part of the team’s discussion overall, head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane also answered multiple questions about the team’s quarterback situation. Both the head coach and the general manager had plenty to say about the quarterbacks currently on the Bills’ roster during their respective press conferences.
On Tyrod Taylor’s roster bonus and status: McDermott said that the bonus is something to consider when making a decision on Taylor’s place on the 2018 Bills. “It’s something obviously that comes into consideration because it is real. It’s part of the equation,” McDermott said. He went on to say that he expected that Taylor would remain on the Bills’ roster in 2018, however. McDermott lauded Taylor for his work ethic and leadership, noting that “his work ethic and intangibles are unmatched, and his leadership that goes along with that position.”
On trading or cutting Taylor: McDermott made it fairly clear that the Bills were not considering releasing Taylor at this time. When asked about trading the Bills’ starting quarterback, McDermott said that “it’s way too early to take anything off the table. Other than cutting him at this point, which is not in our plans.” While the Bills may listen to trade offers on the veteran signal-caller, it appears unlikely that the team will release him. On Thursday, however, McDermott appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio and he softened his praise for Taylor a bit. “Tyrod Taylor is a good QB that was instrumental for us in making the playoffs,” he said. “Decision-wise, we have to decide if this is a guy we want to keep.”
On the quarterbacks available via the NFL Draft: McDermott said that the Bills take a chronological approach to the offseason, so they started their evaluations with potential free agents at the position. He mentioned that he had seen the seniors at the Senior Bowl, and he was only now preparing to meet and interview the underclassmen who have declared for the draft. “We’ll put the work in,” McDermott said. “We do have some picks out there that are good opportunities to improve our football team.
On Nathan Peterman: McDermott noted that the rookie had “some good moments and some that he’d like to have back” in 2017, but he also showed confidence in the young signal caller going forward. “He’s an extremely confident young man and a guy that works hard,” McDermott said, noting that Peterman’s makeup, or “DNA,” as he put it, is perfect for the Bills. McDermott also said that he is confident that Peterman will be better in his second year than he was in his first.
On Tyrod Taylor’s roster bonus and status: “Like every position, we’re trying to get better everywhere,” Beane said when asked about keeping Taylor in 2018. He said that the team is evaluating quarterbacks, but he is also proceeding as if Taylor will be on the Bills’ roster at least through March 16, which is when his $6 million roster bonus is due.
On adding a veteran quarterback: Beane noted the depth of the veteran market for free agent quarterbacks. He said that is had been “well publicized that there’s more veteran quarterbacks out there.” He said that the team would do its “recon” on the available free agents before determining whether or not one of those players is an upgrade for the team. If Beane and his staff determine that a free agent quarterback makes sense for the team and also “upgrades them,” then he won’t hesitate to try to add a player.
On the quarterback prospects and potentially trading up in the draft: Beane was sure to say that he values his draft picks. He also noted that a team can’t merely go into a draft looking to mortgage the entire draft for a quarterback just because they need one. “We’ve got to know that we feel this guy is the guy and is worth the ransom or whatever you want to call it that it would take to move wherever you have to move to get a guy you think fits your long-term plan,” Beane said. While he talked about valuing his draft selections, he also mentioned that he feels that the quarterback class of 2018 is a deep one, saying that “there’s a lot of good players.” He noted that some mock drafts have “five, six, or even seven” players among the top in the entire draft.
On picking a “system QB”: Perhaps most interestingly, Beane said that while new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will have input into who the quarterback is in 2018, the Bills won’t select one specifically at his request. “We’ve got to draft a good football player who fits the Buffalo Bills,” Beane said when asked about coaching changes. “You’re exactly right, Brian could be a head coach somewhere. Yeah, I’m not just going to draft a guy who only fits what Coach Daboll does.”
On quarterback style: Beane appeared on The John Murphy Show Thursday morning, and he was asked about what kind of passer he prefers. When asked about pocket passers, ESPN’s Mike Rodak interpreted Beane’s answer as a less-than-positive discussion of Tyrod Taylor’s style of play. Beane said, “In this game, you have plays where it’s third-and-9 and you can’t run for it, and you got to be able to make plays from the pocket.” He went on to mention that a quarterback can’t be “a statue,” nor can he merely be a “run-around guy.” Overall, it seems as if Beane would like a quarterback who can use his legs when necessary, but who is ultimately able to consistently make plays from the pocket. That essentially makes Beane one of 32 general managers who want the same thing from a quarterback.
For what it’s worth, the Bills’ most important voices in personnel decisions are not shying away from discussing the quarterback position, and they are doing so early and often. While they aren’t saying much in the way of earth-shattering information, their willingness to discuss the topic from numerous angles is refreshing. Of course, we are right in the middle of misinformation season, so it’s highly likely that when an NFL executive is talking at this time of the year, he or she is lying, especially as it relates to personnel decisions. Only time will tell what the Bills will do with their roster, but for now, all we have is the information the brass gives us.