Bills’ best option is to stay the course, pick up Taylor’s contract option

Zachary Memmott, Reporter

The Buffalo Bills have another big decision to make. What to do with Tyrod Taylor?

In 2015-16, Taylor threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns with only six interceptions, making his first-ever Pro Bowl. In response, last off-season the Bills signed the quarterback to a six-year $92-million deal that was essentially a one-year tryout given the options the Bills have to drop the contract.

He accepted the deal and, in that one-year tryout, he played … well, average. His record was 7-8 (he was benched in Week 17) and threw for 3,035 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. Now these are pretty good numbers, but they didn’t translate to wins and it looked as though he regressed from 2015.

He wasn’t reading the middle of the field that well, his deep ball was off, and his overall accuracy was not as good. So now, Bills fans are wondering: What should the Bills do with him?

His contract is an interesting one. There is an option in which the Bills could cut him before March 11 and basically lose no money, but then the only QB on their roster would be sophomore Cardale Jones. Taylor’s level of play didn’t exactly live up to his contract, but sometimes the numbers lie.

The Bills would owe him $27.5 million if they keep him this season, but he would only count $15.9 million against the Bills cap. That ranks as only the 20th-highest cap hit among starting quarterbacks. And then in 2018, it doesn’t go up too much. However, if they keep him past this year, it becomes very hard to get out of the contract. The dead cap money is over $10,000 if they release him before 2020.

Basically, if the Bills keep Taylor, they keep him until 2020 as either their starter or a highly overpaid backup.

And if Bills fans are hoping for a veteran quarterback to come in, maybe Tony Romo or Jay Cutler, they are probably going to be around the same price. With Cutler, you’ll get the same productivity, just more turnovers. With Romo, he could get hurt like he has in the past. Also, Romo has only started four games the past two seasons, so it doesn’t make sense to want him over Taylor.

Really, the only cheaper option out there is Jones or drafting a rookie, but then you’re basically starting over and wasting the talent on defense and McCoy’s prime. While waiting for the rookie to develop (unless he goes all Andrew Luck or RG3 rookie year) or hoping Jones is good is a risk.

Fans are pretty split on Taylor despite the contract. Some think he is a solid NFL starter and can lead the Bills to the playoffs. The Bills did have one of the best rushing attacks in the league last year thanks to Taylor’s mobility. LeSean McCoy is a talent at running back, but Taylor’s ability to escape the pocket and extend plays is extremely good, which helps with the rushing attack. This should help his case to stay on the Bills.

Taylor’s rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in just two years with the Bills. He has averaged 39 rushing yards-per-game and almost six yards-per-rush. Combine that with McCoy, who ran for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns, that makes a pretty solid rushing attack. That makes the defense respect the run and results in more blitzing, which often opens up players outside and deep.

Which brings me to the next point: Taylor hasn’t had the best receivers to work with. Sammy Watkins is injured, it seems like all the time, and their next best guy is Robert Woods (who is a free-agent) who is a solid second receiver or third option.

Taylor is a good enough passer to make the throws he needs to make and doesn’t turn the ball over often. He only threw 12 interceptions in his two years as starter. I understand how Romo is an interesting option, especially with the news he expects to be released, but if you think about it, is he really a better option?

In 2014, Romo started four games, going 3-1 in those games, but threw only five touchdowns to seven interceptions. He is 36 years old. Taylor is the better option and didn’t play awful last year. It was almost like a sophomore slump. He didn’t play well, but he didn’t play awful.

And with the Bills draft choice at number 10, do you really want to take a quarterback? Stephon Gilmore might walk this off-season, both Zach Brown and Lorenzo Alexander are free agents. I don’t see a scenario in which the Bills re-sign all those players. The team could use the pick on a defensive player to bolster the defense, which was a top-10 defense just a few years ago.

Taylor is the best option for the Bills at this point. He’s a solid NFL starter (which are hard to find) and they haven’t made the playoffs since 1999. Don’t restart and make fans wait even longer. Keep Taylor and add some receiver help and some guys on defense. This is a playoff-ready team. If the Dolphins can make the playoffs then there is no reason the Bills should not be able to.

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