Tyrod Taylor isn't a perfect quarterback, but he'll work for now with Buffalo

1:00 | NFL
Three players poised to cash in during free agency
Wednesday March 8th, 2017

GRADE: A-

Maybe Tyrod Taylor never develops into a top-10 quarterback, and maybe he never tosses the Bills up on his shoulders and carries them to the Super Bowl. But even a cursory glance around at the available (and potentially available) QB options out there made it rather obvious that Taylor was the Bills’ best option this off-season.

The two sides reached an agreement on a restructured contract Wednesday, which will keep Taylor in Buffalo at least through the 2017 season.

“We are excited about the opportunity to keep Tyrod with the Bills,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said in a statement. “I’ve gotten a chance to know Tyrod and study him over the past several weeks and he is both a great person and competitor. Doug [Whaley] and I are confident this was best move for the Bills at this time.”

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Exactly a week ago, McDermott didn’t sound so sure. When asked at the combine if the Bills wanted Taylor back, McDermott said, “We’re going through that process right now ... we’re going to exhaust every ounce of time, look at it from every angle.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement, but Taylor’s previous contract no doubt was a fly in the ointment. Had the Bills held onto Taylor without a reworked deal, they would have owed him a guaranteed $30.75 million as of March 11. The Bills did not immediately release financial details of Taylor’s new contract, but it’s safe to assume his 2017 cap hit will fall well below that number.

This all should make McDermott’s transition in Year One much easier. Had Buffalo allowed Taylor to walk, it would have been left with a string of unsavory options to replace him: re-signing EJ Manuel; elevating Cardale Jones to the No. 1 job; trading away a Round 1 pick for, say, Kirk Cousins; spending the No. 10 draft choice on a QB who would be hard-pressed to succeed as a rookie; or, dipping into a free-agent market that is set to pay out $15 million-plus to the likes of Mike Glennon.

Taylor has his flaws, for sure, but he’s also shown he can be a productive quarterback in the NFL. Each of the past two seasons, Taylor has accounted for more than 3,600 yards of total offense, plus 47 combined touchdowns to 12 interceptions. The Bills finished 8–8 in 2015 and 7–9 in ’16, with Taylor at the helm, but issues on defense, injuries across the roster and shoddy coaching did their quarterback no favors.

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Taylor’s leash probably will not be all that long under the new regime, nor should it. If Taylor spends next season digging himself in as a middle-of-the-road starter, the Bills can start working on plans to replace him, either with Jones or a QB currently outside the system.

For their 2017 hopes, however, retaining Taylor was the best-case scenario—perhaps shy of scooping up a released Tony Romo via free agency. Taylor is a solid starting QB, with the chance to be a consistent, above-average performer at that position if he can improve in his third year atop the depth chart.

Losing Taylor would have been a step back for the Bills. Now, they need him to take a step forward.

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