When the Bills signed quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to a new one-year deal, new coach Doug Marrone declared that there will be an open competition at the position.
It will be hard for incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete if he’s not on the roster.
If Fitzpatrick remains on the roster as of March 13, he’ll earn a $3 million roster bonus. Though the Bills haven’t said Fitzpatrick will be cut, they also haven’t declared unequivocally that he’ll stay.
And while Marrone has informed Fitzpatrick of the open competition, he made it clear during our visit at the Scouting Combine that he has no influence over the decisions made by the front office.
With the leader of the front office, G.M. Buddy Nix, declaring during the 2012 season that he wants to have a “good young quarterback” regarded as a “franchise guy for the future in place” before Nix leaves and with no quarterback currently on the team fitting that description and with Jackson signed only weeks before he could have walked, the biggest question currently confronting the Bills is whether $3 million will be paid to Fitzpatrick in the near future — chased by a $200,000 workout bonus and a $4.35 million base salary during the season.
Don’t be surprised if the answer is no.
The fact that the Bills moved with some urgency to re-sign Jackson could be regarded as a sign that they didn’t want to enter free agency with neither Fitzpatrick nor Jackson under contract. So, if Fitzpatrick gets cut, the Bills will at least have Jackson signed and sealed as they search for other quarterbacks who can deliver.