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Bills address backup QB with trade for Case Keenum, return of Matt Barkley

The Bills are not standing pat

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have a pretty big need at backup quarterback with Mitch Trubisky off to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Davis Webb joining the New York Giants. They solved it with a trade on Saturday and could potentially have another QB in the fold in the next few days.

First, the Bills have agreed to trade a 2022 seventh-round pick for QB Case Keenum, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The Cleveland Browns just traded for Deshaun Watson and are finalizing a deal for Jacoby Brissett to be his backup, so they have no need for Keenum.

Keenum has some familiarity with members of the Bills. His offensive coordinator during his two-year stint with the Los Angeles Rams was Rob Boras, Buffalo’s current tight ends coach. Oh yeah, he also threw the Minnesota Miracle pass to Stefon Diggs during the 2017 postseason.

After nine seasons in the NFL with six different franchises, he certainly qualifies as a journeyman, but he’s one who has started a lot of games. He has 64 starts with a career 62.4% completion percentage and a 78 to 48 TD to INT ratio. He has shown the ability to get the job done when called upon.

Keenum was due a $1 million roster bonus yesterday, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer says they paid it. He will carry a $6.1 million cap hit for the Bills in 2022, which is all base salary. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if they re-worked that deal to lower the cap hit. (Adding four void years could lower his cap hit to just over $2 million in 2022.)

Alongside that news, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic is reporting that the Bills intend to re-sign Matt Barkley. That news could become official early this coming week. Barkley was on three different teams in 2021, jumping from the Tennessee Titans (training camp and practice squad) to the Carolina Panthers (active roster) and the Atlanta Falcons (active roster and practice squad). He spent three seasons with Buffalo from 2018 to 2020.

Buffalo would still likely add a QB in the draft or as an undrafted free agent. The Bills have typically kept only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

UPDATE: Both moves were officially announced by the team.

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