Last offseason, after quarterback Tyrod Taylor made the Pro Bowl while posting the NFL’s eighth-best passer rating and rushing for more yards (568) than every quarterback except league MVP Cam Newton, the Buffalo Bills gave Taylor a six-year, $92 million extension.
It didn’t immediately pay off, with the 27-year-old’s rate-based statistics dropping off across the board as the Bills again missed the playoffs in 2016. The team had the ability to get out of his contract at no cost this week, and a lot of folks figured they would because this past season was such a disappointment.
They did not.
The Bills are somewhat surprisingly bringing Taylor back after restructuring his contract, which should give them more salary cap flexibility immediately while also sparing them drama at the quarterback position.
And they made the right call, because while Taylor might not be a superstar, he still has the skills and the potential to become one. And at the very least, he’s an incredibly talented player who has experienced at least a moderate level of success during his first two seasons as an NFL starter.
I know, that’s not overly compelling. But not everybody can have a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers, and those guys simply don’t become available. This is a league with 32 teams and far fewer than 32 franchise-caliber quarterbacks, so teams simply can’t afford to let guys like that go.
Would soon-to-be free agent Tony Romo have been a better choice? He’d cost just as much, if not more, he’s older and much more injury prone. Jay Cutler? Also a lot older, and he’s managed to win just one playoff game in 11 NFL seasons. We know what those guys’ ceilings look like.
Taylor gives the Bills more hope than any other quarterback who might have been available to them this offseason, especially since it appears the Patriots are charging an arm and a leg for Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins might only be willing to go to San Francisco.
The Bills can still draft a quarterback if they so choose. They can still monitor the open market. And they can still move on from Taylor in a year or two. But right now, keeping him gives them their best chance to break out of a playoff drought that has spanned the entire 21st century.
That’s all that matters.