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Buffalo Bills training camp roster preview: Quarterbacks

An upgrade at backup this offseason

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills have found their franchise quarterback. Man, it feels nice to type that sentence. After 25 long years and 17 players covering Todd Collins through Nathan Peterman, the Bills finally have “the guy” rather than “a guy” to replace Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.

With the starting quarterback settled, all that’s left to discuss with regard to the position is the backup. They drafted a player a year ago and signed a big-ticket free-agent backup this offseason. SO how many are they going to keep?


Josh Allen

Contract status for 2021: Signed; fourth year of rookie contract ($6,910,057 cap hit; $6,740,057 dead-cap charge if cut)
Age: Turned 25 on 5/21/2021
2020 Playing time: 16 games (16 starts), 960 offensive snaps (88.24 percent)
Key 2020 statistics: 396/572 (69.2 percent), 4,544 yards passing, 37 passing touchdowns, ten interceptions, 107.2 rating, 81.7 QBR, 102 rushes, 421 yards rushing, eight rushing touchdowns, one target, one reception, 12 yards receiving, one receiving touchdown, nine fumbles

The 2020 season marked the best year by a quarterback in Bills history, as Allen literally rewrote the team’s record books. He now sits atop the single-season leaderboard in passing yardage, completions, quarterback rating, completion percentage, and touchdown passes. Buffalo exercised his fifth-year option this offseason, guaranteeing Allen will be on the roster through the 2022 season and both Allen and the Bills have said that a long-term deal is just a matter of time. He had an MVP-caliber season in 2020, and a small step back wouldn’t be surprising with a hopefully improved running game plus more four-minute offense.

Mitchell Trubisky

Contract status for 2021: Signed
Age: 22 (23 on 7/30/2021)
2020 Playing time: 10 games (9 starts) for Chicago Bears;
Key 2020 statistics: 199/297 (67 percent), 2055 passing yards, 16 passing TDs, 8 INTs, 93.5 rating, 33 rushes for 195 yards and 1 rushing TD

The former second overall pick, Trubisky wasn’t re-signed by the Chicago Bears who went in a different direction at QB. It’s an immediate upgrade at backup quarterback for the Bills and a coup from general manager Brandon Beane. Trubisky knows he’s the backup to Allen and still chose to come here instead of competing for a starting job elsewhere. The one-time Pro Bowl quarterback is here for one year, with plans to move into a starting position on another team in 2022.

Jake Fromm

Contract status for 2021: Signed; second year of rookie contract ($855,740 cap hit; $824,020 dead-cap charge if cut)
Age: 22 (23 on 7/30/2021)
2020 Playing time: N/A
Key 2020 statistics: N/A

Fromm spent the 2020 season quarantined, essentially redshirting as a healthy scratch throughout the entirety of his rookie year. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he was selected to potentially be the long-term backup for Allen. With no preseason games in 2020, we’ve literally never seen him throw a live pass. He is certainly not guaranteed a roster spot, as the Bills have typically gone with just two QBs on the active roster.

Davis Webb

Contract status for 2021: Signed reserve/future contract on 1/26/2021 ($850,000 cap hit; $0 dead money if cut)
Age: Turned 27 on 1/22/2021
2020 Playing time: N/A
Key 2020 statistics: N/A

Webb was elevated to the active roster for one game in 2020, Buffalo’s Week 16 blowout win over the New England Patriots, though he was a healthy scratch. The coaching staff praised Webb effusively for his professionalism and his work ethic, so it’s no surprise that the team wanted to keep him in the fold by signing him to the reserve/futures deal. He will fight with Fromm for the third-string job and the rest of the locker room for the 53rd spot on the active roster.

Players who left this offseason

  • Matt Barkley (Free agent)

The Bills went short-term this offseason, signing Trubisky to just a one-year deal to be Allen’s backup. In exchange, they got a very talented player to backstop another potential run to the Super Bowl. If the worst-case scenario happens, they have a player who can still perform well enough to take them all the way.

The biggest question at the position beyond Allen’s looming contract is how many will they keep? Head coach Sean McDermott traditionally kept two quarterbacks on the roster until COVID-19 impacted that in 2020. With roster rules significantly altered, he kept three QBs because he was able to stash other positions on the enlarged practice squad and use call-ups. It’s unclear if those roster shuffling rules will stay in place for 2021, but if they do we expect him to keep three quarterbacks again. If not, Fromm and/or Webb may be relegated to the practice squad.