After an MVP-caliber 2020, quarterback Josh Allen has firmly cemented himself as the long-awaited franchise quarterback the Buffalo Bills have been searching for since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season.
But at the most important position in football, the Bills’ depth behind Allen, Buffalo’s All-Pro quarterback, is less than stellar. Especially knowing that Matt Barkley, who has played the role of backup quarterback the last two-plus seasons, is set to hit free agency.
Behind Allen, the Bills, like most teams in the NFL, face a steep drop-off at quarterback, with only Davis Webb and 2020 fifth-round selection Jake Fromm currently on the roster entering 2021.
Do the Bills currently have anyone on the roster, among Webb and Fromm, capable of backing up Allen? In my opinion, no.
With Barkley, the Bills made it clear they valued the veteran leadership he brought to the QB room, something that isn’t readily apparent with either Fromm or Webb, though Webb has earned the reputation as a leader, despite never throwing a pass in a preseason or regular-season game with the Bills.
During the abnormal 2020 NFL season, Fromm earned a roster spot coming out of training camp, but did not see any game action. His most valuable contribution to the team came serving as Buffalo’s emergency COVID-19 quarterback for the whole season, providing the Bills a worst-case QB option on the chance the coronavirus ran rampant through the team’s quarterbacks.
Buffalo really can’t know what it has in Fromm who, besides never having thrown a pass in an NFL game, has yet to actually take practice reps with the full team. He is a project at best, someone whose stock has fallen dramatically since guiding the Georgia Bulldogs into the 2017 National Championship game. There’s a chance the Bills bring Fromm into training camp in 2021, but it seems highly unlikely he’s vying for anything other than the No. 3 job.
As for Webb, who was drafted by the New York Giants with the No. 87 overall pick in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he’s also viewed as a terrific leader—someone who can serve as another coach in the quarterbacks room—just like Barkley. Webb was re-signed to a reserve/futures deal by the Bills this offseason, which means he can’t be signed by another team.
Webb has never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game, though he has played in the preseason, most recently in 2019 with the New York Jets. His performance left a lot to be desired. In four games, Webb completed 29 of 45 passes (64.4 percent) for 253 yards with zero passing touchdowns and four interceptions.
Webb, who spent the duration of the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons and postseasons on the Bills’ practice squad, received plenty of credit for orchestrating workouts with Buffalo’s skill position players last summer in Florida. But that doesn’t make him a great candidate to replace Barkley as Buffalo’s backup.
If I’m general manager Brandon Beane, I say goodbye to Fromm, hang onto Webb as the No. 3 quarterback, and either re-sign Barkley or hope to convince a veteran to come to Buffalo on a reduced-salary contract to backup Allen.
- 2021 All-22 Analysis: Matt Barkley’s game film
- Contract projection: What’s it gonna cost to retain Matt Barkley?
- Do the Bills have a backup QB already on the roster without re-signing Barkley?
- Free-agent options at backup QB
- 2021 NFL Draft options at backup QB
- Opinion: What I would do at backup QB if I was the Bills
- Vote: What do you think the Bills should do at backup QB?