ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – On Thursday morning, news of Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor undergoing groin surgery first surfaced via Snapchat, where Taylor snapped a few photos of himself in hospital garb and shared them with the world. Soon after came confirmation from the team via Twitter, in a short, terse statement.
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) January 5, 2017
As far as statements go, that one is pretty damning. The rhetoric presents a noticeable divide between Taylor and the Bills, particularly concerning the decision to have surgery on his injured groin. A word like “elected” suggests that Taylor did not consult the Bills on his decision to have surgery, as does the fact that they were not informed of it until “late last night.”
For Buffalo, the issue, of course, revolves around their pending decision to pick up an option in Taylor’s contract, which would commit more than $30 million to the quarterback. An injury clause in the deal would also guarantee that figure to the Virginia Tech product if he is unable to pass a physical by March 11. While the recovery time for the sports hernia procedure Taylor had this morning is generally followed by a six-week recovery, if for some reason it were to extend past March 12 the Bills will be on the hook for that huge sum of money, whether they planned on keeping him or not.
Another problem could arise in that if Buffalo were to not pick up the option, effectively cutting him, the NFLPA could argue that he’s entitled to the money anyway. That’s a situation that could get extremely dicey.
To be fair to Taylor he was pretty clear about his intentions during Monday’s locker room cleanout, where he mentioned that he was getting a second opinion on the groin and that if needed he’d undergo surgery asap in an effort to “get back and attack the off-season,” adding that it’s “not about the guarantee.” He certainly didn’t sound of a guy that was trying to pull one over on the franchise and if that was truly his intent he would have been better served to drag his feet in scheduling the procedure.
Still, the passive-aggressive statement indicates that the Bills feel he went rogue in making his decision. To put it in perspective, let’s compare to the team’s statement from last May when a similar choice was made regarding first-round draft pick Shaq Lawson’s injured shoulder.
The difference in tone is almost deafening. They explained the decision as if the franchise was looking out for Lawson’s long-term health and called it “the best course of action.” Then in the latter portion Doug Whaley even commended the rookie for agreeing to the surgery and putting the team’s goals before his own. Even the fact that it was two paragraphs versus two sentences is pretty striking. These profoundly different statements show the difference between a team being in the loop on the final determination and supporting it, versus not.
In all likelihood, the injury clause in Taylor’s contract will become a moot point but it doesn’t mask the fact that the relationship between the two parties has become seriously strained since the Bills decided to bench the second-year starter for Week 17.
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