Last year, the Buffalo Bills worked on developing their identity as a defensive team that runs the football. But the Bills got a nice surprise when career journeyman Tyrod Taylor produced a very good season at quarterback. Now the question remains whether Taylor or the newly drafted Cardale Jones will be Buffalo’s QB of the future.
Jones, a fourth-round pick pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is one of the rawest quarterbacks in the league. He first gained notability after taking over as QB of the Ohio State Buckeyes and leading them to the 2014-15 BCS National Championship.
He opened as starter for the Buckeyes after a battle with J.T. Barrett last year, but struggled to regain the same form he had the previous season. Jones ended up splitting time with Barrett, and announced his decision to enter the draft after his sophomore year.
Taylor is certainly more experienced, having spent 6 years in the NFL. But before the 2015-16 season, he’d only attempted 35 passes in five years.
Taylor proved that he’s capable of being more than a backup, though, posting a 63.7% completion rate, 20 TD passes, and just 6 interceptions. The 27-year-old can run too, tallying 568 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
His play ensures that the Bills won’t go into camp worrying about a 3-way quarterback battle, as they did last year with Taylor, Matt Cassel, and E.J. Manuel.
In fact, CBS Sports reports that Buffalo is closing in on a 2-year deal to keep the former sixth-round pick around. The deal is rumored to be worth $30 million.
This obviously shows that the Bills have committed to Taylor over the short term, but is he just a bridge until the organization finds out if Jones is for real?
One likely scenario is that the team wants to see another 1-2 seasons out of Taylor before they decide if he’s worth a long-term investment. Again, this is a guy who’s only started one full season, and there are plenty of players who’ve fallen off after one magical year.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Buffalo needs a reliable starter with Jones on the roster. The rookie has great size (6’5″) and arm strength, but he’s at least two years away from being anything close to a solid pro QB.
The other side of the equation is that Taylor could play really well and command a larger contract once his deal is up. If this happens, other teams will bid for his services, putting Buffalo in a tough spot money-wise as they look to keep the 6’1″ quarterback. The pressure to re-sign Taylor will be even more immense if they make the playoffs.
Of course, these are just scenarios, and only the upcoming season will cast more light on where Buffalo’s QB situation is going. For now, the team will just look to improve upon their 8-8 record from last year, which was good enough to keep Rex Ryan’s job, but not good enough to make the postseason.
Right now, Buffalo has +450 odds of winning the AFC East on our GTBets.eu line. This is a distant second to New England (-200), but better than the New York Jets (+550) and Miami Dolphins (+750).