When the Bills signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a contract extension, the goal was to give the player a short-term raise and possible long-term security while also protecting the team against a possible Kirk Cousins-style game of tag. If Taylor had played really well or really poorly last year, the decision would be easy.
But Taylor’s 2016 performance falls somewhere between not good enough to make giving him $27.5 million for 2017 and not bad enough to make cutting him a no-brainer. So what will the Bills do?
The decision to bench him late in the 2016 regular season operated as a fairly clear indication that they wouldn’t be bringing him back, because they didn’t want him to suffer an injury that would have tied their hands as to the $27.5 million. The more accurate interpretation of that decision could be that the Bills wanted to give the next coaching staff maximum flexibility as to the question of whether Taylor would or wouldn’t be kept around.
The hiring of former Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison made the situation more intriguing, given that the Broncos (where Dennison most recently worked) were interested in Taylor when he became a free agent two years ago. He opted for Buffalo and a starting job over joining a depth chart that featured Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.
Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com recently said it’s his “sense” that Dennison would like to keep Taylor. The question becomes the financial commitment. With $27.5 million due this year and another $13 million owed to Taylor in 2018, that’s a $40.5 million proposition over the next two seasons.
Ideally, the Bills and Taylor would negotiate an arrangement that allows him to continue to be the starter at a more realistic salary. But Taylor reportedly won’t re-do the deal. Which makes it an all-or-nothing proposition for the Bills.
And the clock is ticking.