The official numbers are in on the Tyrod Taylor deal. Put simply, the player took a fattened bird in the hand for 2016, and the team retained the ability to search for the proverbial two in the bush as of 2017.
Taylor’s compensation for the current season increases from $3 million to $9.5 million, but with no guarantees at signing for 2017 or beyond. Contrary to a report from ESPN that emerged on the day the deal was done, there is no $10 million buyout or any other security for Taylor in the event the team decides to not keep him beyond this year. (It’s one of the more bizarre errors in contract reporting we’ve ever seen, with all due respect.)
The ability to move on after one year is critical for the team; if ownership decides to fire G.M. Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan after the season, the next regime won’t have its hands tied by Taylor’s contract.
If the Bills keep Taylor, he’ll earn a $15.5 million option bonus and $12 million base salary in 2017, with the salary becoming fully guaranteed if Taylor is on the roster on the fourth day of the 2017 league year. That’s $27.5 million for 2017.
Taylor’s $13 million base salary for 2018 becomes fully-guaranteed on the third day of the 2018 league year; $3.25 million of that amount becomes guaranteed for injury if/when the option bonus is exercised in 2017.
The next three years after 2018 are all non-guaranteed, with base salaries of $13.6 million in 2019, $13.85 million in 2020, and $14.55 million in 2021.
There’s also a one-time $250,000 bonus for taking at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps in a Super Bowl, $500,000 in incentives available for 2018 through 2021 based on passing yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns, and a $3 million incentive package for 2021 based on passing yards, rushing yards, touchdowns, and playoffs.
It’s a five-year extension and a straight six-year deal. As a practical matter, it’s a Russell Okung-style one-year, $9.5 million contract with a team option for the larger payments due in the second and third years.
While giving the Bills the flexibility to move on from Taylor, the contract also allows the team to keep him at payments less than the franchise tag for 2017 and 2018, with much lower salaries for the next three years. As a result, the Bills are protected against Taylor regressing — and they’re protected against him becoming a star. If he ends up somewhere in the middle, the Bills could have a difficult $27.5 million decision to make.