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What would it take for the Buffalo Bills to begin the season with only two quarterbacks?

With the Bills expected to carry three quarterbacks into the season, what would it take for them to drop one before they play a game that counts?

The Buffalo Bills will begin training camp on July 26th with three quarterbacks competing for the starting job. AJ McCarron was the early favorite to take the reins, but Nathan Peterman has been heating up this offseason, as well. Don’t forget Sean McDermott’s insistence that the Josh Allen plan is written “in pencil” and can be altered based on what coaches are seeing. Pecking order questions aside, it’s generally felt that all three will remain on the team once the regular season starts. What would it take to enter 2018 with only two?

The key to this scenario lies in Josh Allen’s development. The Bills have put forth a concerted effort to let the world know that Allen starts at the bottom to earn his way up. This was reflected in reality during OTAs, and until we see otherwise, Allen is number three on the charts. Unless Allen proves that he can better than one of the other guys in a pinch, neither McCarron nor Peterman are going anywhere.

The question then evolves into how much development the Bills would need to see in order to remove Nathan Peterman or AJ McCarron from the roster. The answer to this revised question hinges on which quarterback Allen would be supplanting. In Peterman’s case, the Bills could attempt to place him on the practice squad in case of emergency. This would create a lower barrier to give Allen a shot in his stead. In the event Allen is seen as the clearly better option than only one of the other guys, he’d need to beat out Peterman. While Brandon Beane has shown a willingness to dump salaries, McCarron was signed to be the insurance policy at the quarterback position. With Peterman and Allen both considered developmental guys, ditching the steady hand isn’t likely on the table. Unless...

Josh Allen could come out and light it up at training camp and in preseason games. If Allen’s development is significantly ahead of what’s been projected, it’s not unthinkable for him to start immediately. If he does, he should be allowed to take his lumps while growing. That makes either Peterman or McCarron superfluous. In that event, Peterman is the more likely “odd man out” due to his practice squad eligibility. Contrasting that though, Peterman’s work with the first team in OTAs does suggest that the team is intrigued with seeing his arc play out. Although McCarron’s release would call for a $4.9 million dead cap charge, the Bills already lead the league in that category, and could add to the pile of dead money with no effect on next year’s cap if they choose. If Allen is the man, both McCarron and Peterman need to look over their shoulder.

To provide a clearer answer, if we see the Buffalo Bills enter the regular season with only two quarterbacks on the roster, it’s a sure sign they feel that Josh Allen is further ahead than they anticipated.