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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: QB Matt Barkley

Is he headed back to the practice squad this year, or is he destined for the 53-man roster thanks to a new rule?

Buffalo Bills v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills are fortunate to have one of the league’s best players at the most important position in the game. That makes writing any preview articles about the quarterback position pretty easy in terms of deciding who plays and when. For the Bills at the quarterback position, it’s Josh Allen’s world and we’re all lucky to be living in it.

But when it comes to the backup quarterback spots, there was a new rule change that adds a small potential wrinkle into the team’s plans. Will they continue to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster, or will they add a third since they can now declare a third quarterback as the emergency player in case of injury and/or ejection?

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss the man who would be that emergency quarterback if the team saw fit to use one.

Name: Matt Barkley

Number: 5

Position: QB

Height/Weight: 6’2”, 234 pounds

Age: 32 (33 on 9/8/2023)

Experience/Draft: 10; selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round (No. 98 overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft

College: USC

Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 3/21/2022

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Barkley signed a one-year contract to return this past offseason. That pact is worth a total of $1.165 million. Barkley’s cap hit is less than that thanks to the veteran’s minimum exception, so he’ll count just $1,025,200 if he makes the 53-man roster. Buffalo will be on the hook for a dead-cap charge of $235,000 if Barkley is released.

2022 Recap: Barkley re-signed with Buffalo last spring after having spent the previous season with the Tennessee Titans. He made three appearances in the preseason with the Bills, completing 34-of-45 passes for 389 yards with an interception. He also served as the team’s punter for the final preseason game, hitting four punts for an average of 40 yards per punt and a net average of 33 yards per punt. One of his four punts was downed inside the 20-yard line. At the conclusion of the preseason, Barkley was released and re-signed to the team’s practice squad. He did not appear in a regular-season game, and he has not appeared in a regular-season game since the 2020 NFL season.

Positional outlook: Barkley is the only non-Allen at quarterback this year, as he joins Josh Allen and Kyle Allen as the quarterbacks on the roster.

2023 Offseason: Barkley is healthy and participating in offseason activities.

2023 Season outlook: The question isn’t whether Barkley will be with the Bills this year — he almost certainly will be — but instead is whether he’ll be on the 53-man roster or return to the practice squad. Had the NFL not implemented a rule change allowing teams to note an emergency third quarterback from the 53-man roster, this wouldn’t be much of a decision — as Barkley would end up on the practice squad. However, now that teams can declare a third, emergency quarterback who doesn’t count against the game-day roster, it adds a layer of decision for the team (and yes, that player has to come from the 53-man roster—he cannot be an elevated practice-squad player). Do the Bills want to keep Barkley on the 53-man roster at the expense of another player they hope to sneak onto the practice squad? Or will they roll with two quarterbacks, risk having both Allens suffer an injury during a game, and have Barkley to elevate a week later? For me, I think keeping Barkley on the practice squad is the way I’d go, but the team has a choice to make this summer.