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Free-agent quarterbacks who could back up Josh Allen on the Buffalo Bills

Would you replace Matt Barkley with any of these players?

In the past three years, the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback room has stayed mostly consistent even as the team around it dramatically changed from a 6-10 group to a 12-4 team one win away from the Super Bowl. As Josh Allen’s progressed from his inconsistent rookie year into an MVP candidate, Matt Barkley’s been the steady veteran in the room each offseason.

Barkley’s a free agent this year, and with Allen emerging as a star, the Bills may need something else from their backup quarterback. Would any of these veterans be an upgrade over Barkley on the Bills’ roster?

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Could Fitzmagic return to Buffalo to ease into retirement? Or does he think he can still start somewhere? Over the last three years, he’s played some of the best football of his 15-year career—completing 64.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 7.9 yards per attempt, 50 touchdowns to 33 interceptions, and a 91.8 passer rating. He’s the kind of backup who could inspire a wild comeback in dire circumstances (or a tragic collapse depending on how the coin lands). He’s an outstanding locker room presence, and he’s very partial to Buffalo.

Fitzpatrick just finished a two-year, $11 million contract after playing for roughly $3 million per year the two prior seasons. A one-year, $4 million deal might work—but it wouldn’t be surprising if some team bids above that for Fitzpatrick.

Cam Newton

Because the Bills don’t have enough former Carolina Panthers on their roster. Last season, Newton was a free agent, and fans were wondering whether the Bills should sign him as a backup—or if his presence might be a threat to the young Josh Allen. But now Allen’s playing like an MVP candidate, while Newton just struggled through the worst season of his career.

Newton played for a $1.75 million contract last year, and will probably cost something similar this year. He’s firmly in backup territory after eight-plus years as an unquestioned starter, including an MVP season. Like Allen, he’s a serious rushing threat. This might be the best fit available.

Andy Dalton

Maybe the Bills can thank Dalton for ending their playoff drought by signing him to a contract? After the Cincinnati Bengals released him, the Dallas Cowboys signed Dalton to a one-year, $3 million deal. He was thrust into a starter’s role after Dak Prescott’s injury, and played fine down the stretch. Dalton is a steady pocket passer with nine years of starting experience, and that’s usually what you look for in an ideal backup quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor

Here’s another former Buffalo player. After quarterbacking the 2017 playoff Bills, Taylor went to the Cleveland Browns and was quickly supplanted by rookie Baker Mayfield. He spent a year as the backup for Philip Rivers on the Chargers, then was set to start for them before a medical disaster took Taylor to the hospital and forced Justin Herbert onto the field. The eventual Rookie of the Year never gave Taylor another chance.

Bills fans know what you get with Taylor—a low-risk, low-reward passer with solid accuracy and an elusive pocket presence. He just wrapped up a two-year, $11 million contract, and will probably cost something similar on his next deal. Would he return to Buffalo?

Mike Glennon

The 31-year-old Glennon is one of the few quarterbacks who stands taller than Josh Allen. Glennon has had his moments in the starting role, and his first couple of seasons earned him a healthy contract with the Chicago Bears, but the pocket passer has spent most of his career on the bench. With seven years of NFL experience on five teams, he fits the “journeyman backup” label to a T.

Glennon had signed a $1.2 million contract with the Jaguars in 2020, but ultimately landed on their practice squad at the start of the season. He was promoted to the active roster, and eventually started five games, all losses.

Other options

Thinking about a scrambling quarterback? You could go with Robert Griffin III. Jameis Winston signed a $1.1 million contract last year—do you think he’ll be so cheap for another year? Colt McCoy, Joe Flacco, Brian Hoyer, and Blaine Gabbert are still kicking around the league. Want to give a shot to Blake Bortles or C.J. Beathard?


Who should the Bills sign as a backup QB?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Ryan Fitzpatrick
    (584 votes)
  • 8%
    Cam Newton
    (119 votes)
  • 16%
    Andy Dalton
    (231 votes)
  • 7%
    Tyrod Taylor
    (110 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Glennon
    (10 votes)
  • 18%
    Matt Barkley
    (268 votes)
  • 6%
    Someone else
    (94 votes)
1416 votes total Vote Now

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