The Buffalo Bills locked up franchise quarterback Josh Allen for the foreseeable future, inking a six-year contract extension that allows the 25 year old to earn up to $258 million, according to Spotrac. If all goes to plan, the Bills won’t have any doubt as to the identity of their starting quarterback through the 2028 season.
Before that deal was done, however, the Bills made some changes to the quarterback room. They allowed popular backup quarterback Matt Barkley to leave via free agency, signing a former first-round pick to replace the likeable veteran. When the signing happened, my phone lit up with messages from friends who expressed doubts about creating a competition between Allen and his newfound teammate. While I thought those fears were misguided at the time, the Bills’ commitment to Allen has negated them outright in the time since.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss Josh Allen’s new backup.
Name: Mitchell Trubisky
Height/Weight: 6’2” 220 lbs
Age: 26 (27 on 8/20/2021)
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 3/18/2021
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Trubisky signed a one-year deal with the Bills worth a total of $2.5 million this offseason. All but $500,000 of the contract was guaranteed at signing, so Trubisky would carry a dead-cap hit of $2 million if the Bills were to trade him or release him.
2020 Recap: Trubisky had a tough go of it in his fourth (and ultimately final) season with the Bears. He won a competition with veteran Nick Foles, whom Chicago acquired via trade prior to the season, and began the year as the team’s starting quarterback. The Bears won their first two games with Trubisky at the helm, but he was benched during a miserable performance in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons. He next appeared in a game in Week 8, during which he ran for three yards as a wildcat quarterback. Trubisky injured his throwing shoulder in that game, leading to his being inactive for Chicago’s following two contests. After Foles suffered a hip injury, Trubisky came back into the starting lineup, leading the Bears to a 3-3 record over the team’s final six games. He also started the Wild Card Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, and while the Bears lost 21-9, Trubisky was named the NVP—Nickelodeon Valuable Player—of the contest, which was televised on the children’s network of the same name. Trubisky appeared in ten games, making nine starts, in the regular season. The Bears were 6-3 in his starts, and he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,055 yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He added 33 rushes for 195 yards and one touchdown. In the playoffs, Trubisky completed 19 of 29 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown, adding three rushes for ten yards.
Positional outlook: Trubisky is entrenched as QB2 behind Josh Allen, with Jake Fromm and Davis Webb III battling for the third spot on the roster.
2021 Offseason: Trubisky is healthy and he has participated in all team activities to date.
2021 Season outlook: A backup quarterback is either the most popular guy on the team (when the starter isn’t doing well) or a complete unknown (when the starter is playing well). Just because the starter is head and shoulders better than the backup doesn’t mean that there won’t be fans calling for a change, either, as any Bills fan who was around to hear people call for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly to be benched in favor of backup Frank Reich can attest. Trubisky isn’t here to be the starter, and if all goes well, he won’t play any meaningful snaps this year. What he is here to do is rehabilitate his image a bit in hopes of landing a starting gig elsewhere in 2022.
What Trubisky brings to the table that Matt Barkley didn’t is an ability to run the playbook that Buffalo runs with Allen, as Trubisky is a mobile guy with a strong arm. Of course, he’s nowhere near the talent that Allen is, but that’s not a knock on the guy. It’s a better situation for the team, though, when you don’t have to change your offense entirely when your backup enters the game like the Bills had to do with Barkley, who was not at all a threat with his legs and whose lack of arm strength made certain patterns in the playbook untouchable. Trubisky is an insurance policy that the Bills hope they won’t ever have to cash in, but it could be the best move that general manager Brandon Beane made this offseason. Unless the Bills trade him before September starts a la A.J. McCarron, Trubisky should be on the sidelines with a clipboard all year.