When it comes to Tyrod Taylor, it’s pretty obvious the Buffalo Bills are unwilling to commit to him as their franchise quarterback beyond 2017.
Perhaps the first indication of that was the contract restructure Taylor agreed to back in March, which eliminated the team option in his original contract, cut his guaranteed money in half and gave the Bills an easy out from the deal next spring.
Months later, with new general manager Brandon Beane added into the fold at One Bills Drive, the same theme that McDermott has instituted remains in effect regarding Taylor: no one is being handed a starting job.
Together, McDermott and Beane first broached the subject of Taylor being Buffalo’s franchise quarterback, in Peter King’s weekly MMQB column for Sports Illustrated. McDermott – who’s strategic in his word choice – was quick to declare Taylor the starter for 2017, before Beane emphasizes the importance of open competition at every position. Here’s the full excerpt…
MMQB: Is Buffalo’s quarterback of the future on the roster now?
McDermott: He is, in Tyrod Taylor. And then when you look at the competition we have behind him. We’ve drafted Nathan Peterman, we’ve added T.J. Yates, and then Cardale Jones in the draft a year ago. I’m not sure there is a team out there that has the depth that we do at the quarterback position. So we feel good about that. We’re anxious to see how Tyrod develops in his third year as a starter in a new system, a system that he has some familiarity with in terms of [new Buffalo offensive coordinator] Rick Dennison’s system in Baltimore a few years back with Gary Kubiak.
Beane: We have open competition everywhere. Obviously it is a quarterback league, but with Tyrod … He has some tools, his speed, he is tough to game-plan for. He has some strengths and he is still a young starter in this league. It is going to be a competition for every position, to let them fight it out and earn the right to start on this team.
McDermott: I think that’s the key. Going back to your question, Can we guarantee he is on our roster right now? That remains to be seen and that is true at a lot of positions on our roster.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement from either of the Bills key decision makers.
Then came Beane’s individual conversation with WGR on Monday morning, where the Bills Gm went even more in depth with the quarterback discussion.
“I met Tyrod the other day,” he stated. ‘Obviously I’ve seen Tyrod on film. If we walk out there today I would say Tyrod’s probably the starter. But we haven’t even gone through OTAs. We’ve got the young guy Peterman. I thought he did some nice things this weekend at the minicamp. Cardale Jones has a huge arm and talent. I don’t know anything about him personally. T.J. Yates has done some starting in his career, so there are some guys on this roster. I’m for open competition. Sean is. Earn the right. Whatever job you have, whatever position you’re trying to get. I’m not in the business of handing out position on May the 15th. We’ve got a long way to go … That’s what I’m saying. I’ve got a lot of belief in Tyrod, but we’ve got other guys that are going to challenge for that as well.”
The Bills 13th GM went on to admit that he hasn’t had to do much quarterback scouting recently since his former team – Carolina – hit on Cam Newton with the first overall pick in 2011. Newton has of course gone on to be considered one of the top QBs in the NFL after winning the MVP award in 2015 and taking the Panthers to the Super Bowl. It’s certainly been a more futile quarterback situation here in Buffalo, where the Bills haven’t found that franchise guy to put under center since Jim Kelly retired in 1996.
Even more incriminating for Taylor, Beane explained his philosophy on finding a quarterback.
“The draft is generally where you get a top-level quarterback,” he asserted. “If you look back most of the guys, other than Drew Brees’ situation, where (the Chargers) drafted over him with Philip Rivers and let him go and he had the shoulder injury. Generally speaking, (Peyton) Manning, (Tom) Brady. Manning for all those years and it was just an injury and it worked out where they get Andrew Luck. If Andrew Luck doesn’t fall into the Colts’ lap, Manning would have finished his career in Indy, they would have never let him go. Brady in New England. Aaron Rodgers. Generally speaking, you’re going to have to find your quarterback through the draft. Doesn’t mean you can’t find it somewhere else and, look, we’re gonna look at every avenue to do that, but if you just look at history, I’d be lying if I didn’t say you need to draft one.”
Taylor, of course, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2011, and came to Western New York via free agency in 2015.
Neither Beane or McDermott have ruled out Taylor becoming that guy for the Bills, but it appears – based on their comments in these recent interviews – that the 27-year-old still has a lot to prove in 2017.
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