Earlier this offseason, Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Davis Webb didn’t immediately sign a reserve/future deal with the team despite finishing the season on the practice squad in Buffalo. A few weeks later, he got a nice signing bonus from the New York Giants and the Bills were left without a backup quarterback.
In a podcast interview at the end of May, Webb detailed the decision-making process, including both offers he received from the Bills and why he ultimately went back to the team that drafted him.
At least he knew he had multiple solid options and wasn’t going to be finding a new home with people he didn’t know.
“You’re either staying in Buffalo or going probably with Dabs and them or you’re thinking about coaching,” said Webb. “When I talked to Brandon [Beane] and Sean [McDermott] about it, we kind of left that conversation probably leaning toward coaching in Buffalo. It would have been the quarterback coaching job and I would have had to interview and go through the whole process but that’s kind of where we were leaning toward was us probably transitioning into that. They offered that I could still play. You could be in Buffalo in one of these two roles. We want you here. We want you to be here. You do a lot for us and Josh [Allen] and Stef Diggs and Dawson [Knox], Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, all those guys that were there in the role of a player-coach almost.”
Officially, player-coach dual positions aren’t allowed by the NFL for salary cap reasons, but Webb was always coaching up players from his roster spot. Having some stability for Josh Allen was the ultimate argument to keep Webb. When Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was hired by New York, it seemed to be the tipping point in the decision-making process for Webb.
“Then Dabs got the job and it kind of moved quickly and I had to make a decision. I wanted to continue to learn with Dabs and build that relationship with Shea [Tierney] and Bobby Johnson and Joe [Schoen],” said Webb. “Joe was a big proponent of me getting to Buffalo from the Jets, so that meant a lot to me. I felt wanted. Trusted those guys and I wanted to be part of that, back to the place where it all started.”
Hitching your wagon to one of the most prominent offensive minds in football right now is a smart play for Webb in the long run, and Schoen made sure Webb wanted to come to the Giants with a $50,000 signing bonus—a pretty big number for a future deal.
Webb also knew that in New York, he would get a chance to play. The former third-round pick has never thrown an NFL pass and has played just four snaps in his entire career, handing off twice and kneeling twice. He was a COVID-19 call-up from the practice squad for one game in 2021.
“Why start coaching when you have two contracts to keep going? For me to give up on that just didn’t seem right,” said Webb, who added that he still dreams of throwing an NFL pass.
Eventually Webb does want to get into coaching, but at the age of 27, it’s not like he’s old and the game is passing him by. He says athletically, he’s as strong and fluid as ever.
“When you have two contracts to keep playing and you say no to that to coach when coaching is going to be there for the rest of your life, to me that’s a decision that’s self-explanatory. You want to play this game as long as you can,” said Webb. “Yeah it would have been a pretty neat and cool opportunity and a good start in the next phase in my life but I wasn’t ready for that phase.”
The Bills were interested in keeping at least some continuity in the sea of change. With Daboll gone, assistant quarterback coach Shea Tierney went with his mentor to the Giants. Buffalo promoted QB coach Ken Dorsey to the role of offensive coordinator then signed Joe Brady from outside the organization to be the new QB coach.
Backup QB Mitch Trubisky signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Webb signed with the Giants, and the other practice squad quarterback—Jake Fromm—was signed off Buffalo’s practice squad during the 2021 season. The Bills brought back Matt Barkley in the reserve veteran role and traded for Case Keenum to be the primary backup. The entire room was overhauled except for starter Josh Allen.
Brady, Keenum, and Barkley were all on other teams last season, so there are no familiar faces looking back at Allen when he entered OTAs, though Barkley spent two seasons with the Bills as a backup previously.
Retaining Webb in the backup QB role or as quarterbacks coach could have lessened the turnover, but it wasn’t in the cards this time.
The now-former Bills QB also shared some love for the city of Buffalo and the fans in the podcast if you want to listen to the whole thing: