The Buffalo Bills have a big decision to make. Tyrod Taylor is officially healthy now as he recently passed a physical according to a team source per Adam Schefter. It’s not yet known if his camp agrees with that assessment, but a little over a month removed from his groin surgery and less than three weeks until his $27.5M option is due, the man seems to be healthy. Good.
Now, new Head Coach Sean McDermott and the Bills can make the right move and retain the best quarterback Buffalo’s had since Jim Kelly. You can go ahead and root for a full-blown rebuild and for starting over with someone else, but I’m quite sure McDermott wants to win and win right now. He signed a five-year deal which on the surface gives time to build sustainable and long-term success, however the NFL really is a what-have-you-done-lately business and with only 16 games each season, every Sunday is critical.
And lately, Tyrod Taylor has helped spark a top-ten scoring offense each of the past two years. An accomplishment the Bills offense hadn’t reached in the previous 10 seasons. He also provides Buffalo with its most realistic shot at breaking the playoff drought, which needs to happen soon or else it will be of age before we know it. Seriously though, look at the guys Buffalo added to its coaching staff this offseason and tell me T-Mobile isn’t coming back!
Start with the team’s newest Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison. A veteran coordinator with experience working with all different style of QB’s and who spent the 2014 season as the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens and you guessed it, Tyrod Taylor. After that year Dennison moved on to the OC position for the Denver Broncos and heavily recruited Taylor before he signed with the Bills. During his time in the league, Rick has developed a proven running game and also likes to get his QB’s to the perimeter with bootlegs, both of which could bode well with the players Buffalo already has on offense.
Long-time NFL assistant Head Coach David Culley was brought on to be the quarterback coach and has over 20-plus years experience working in the NFL. Although most of that time was spent as a wide receivers coach, Culley has always worked on the offensive side of the ball and is a brutally honest teacher that played QB in college himself. I don’t see how that couldn’t help Taylor. Add that to new Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier and its clear McDermott’s built an extremely experienced coaching staff on offense and defense that he hopes will help right the ship.
What in the world do defensive hires have to do with keeping Tyrod? It has to happen regardless, but when even the new Head Coach is a defensive first guy and the biggest issue the team had a year ago was on that side of the ball, committing to fix it is a pretty solid strategy. Especially when you consider what 2016 could have been if Buffalo’s defense showed any consistency while Taylor led an offense that put up almost 25 points every week. Half of the equation is already in place, just shore up the defense and you’ve got a recipe for success waiting to be served.
But you’re always looking to improve and there’s got to be better options than Tyrod available through the NFL Draft or Free Agency, right? Let’s start in the open market and free agency, where unless you want to give up good value in a trade for Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, or other unknowns, the options are Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub, Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer etc. etc. It’s just not pretty. But let’s say GM Doug Whaley takes a swing and gives up some picks and maybe a player for Romo, will the soon-to-be 37-year old be able to stay healthy behind a Bills offensive line that is built for the run and gave up the 4th-most sacks in the NFL last season? Will Bills fans’ turn on Cutler the first time he throws a pick six and then mopes to the sidelines with the body language and expression of “it wasn’t my fault”?
I’d love a 300-yard gunslinger that takes chances and throws people open if he’s available for the right price but I’m not convinced free agency or trade is the answer. The 2017 NFL Draft is always an intriguing place to find a replacement at quarterback as Buffalo holds the tenth overall pick. The problem is this year’s QB class is considered relatively weak with a lot of big-arm projects but only 2-3 guys that are thought of as absolute locks to be taken in the first round.
Not to say that the upcoming NFL Combine might slightly change this or that you can’t find starting-caliber QB’s in the later rounds as we all know you can. But using an early first-round pick when the top couple prospects will most likely already be gone to try and see if they can outplay TT seems like a waste to me. That being said, Whaley absolutely has to take a quarterback in the mid-late rounds like he did with Cardale Jones and should be looking to go best player available early on according to team needs. All in all, the Draft or free agency don’t seem like viable options for the team to find an immediate upgrade to #5 without giving up major assets.
Whether it’s by restructuring Tyrod’s deal to give him more security on the back-end and the team immediate cap relief or just by picking up his option, the Bills shouldn’t let Taylor (or his agent) leave the building. Especially when you consider the rag-tag of a WR corps Buffalo has had over the last two seasons, it’s going to be tough to replace these kind of numbers for under $15.9M against the cap (unless you get lucky through the draft which I do advocate):
|Games||Win-Loss||Completion %||Total Yards||Pass TD’s||Rush Td’s||Total TD’s||Turnovers|
Go out and get another couple weapons at wide receiver through the deep (at that position) NFL Draft, tighten up the defense, gain some continuity and get to work. There is always room for improvement, but when you have the option to retain a QB that’s proven to lead a high-scoring offensive attack, has a big arm, elite mobility and limits his turnovers at a reasonable price, you keep that man! Please, Buffalo Bills, from at least half of the fan base if not more, show Tyrod Taylor the money!