Both general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott have given Taylor lukewarm endorsements in recent weeks, praising the quarterback in some talk while saying while also mentioning the position will be a constant competition, The Buffalo News reports.
Don't read too much into this and think Taylor might not be the starter come Week 1 -- only injury would prevent something of that magnitude. But it took awhile this offseason for the team to commit to Taylor, and that's still thought to be only a short-term strategy until he proves himself further, especially with two first-round picks waiting in 2018. Those who draft Taylor will have to hope he plays well early in the season, or he runs the risk of being subbed out later in the season if the Bills -- a team with talent but also with a difficult 2017 schedule while going through a bit of a rebuild -- end up falling out of the playoff chase.
Taylor showed up for voluntary offseason workouts this week and has announced himself fully healthy following offseason groin surgery, BuffaloBills.com reports. "This was my first time actually sprinting and actually doing full movement things," said Taylor, who just re-structured his contract so he could stay with the Bills as the starter for at least one more season. "I've felt great since the surgery and the doctors here and the training staff have done a great job of getting me to 100 percent and I feel real good. I feel very explosive."
Taylor, who's known as a hard worker, has already gotten on new coach Sean McDermott's good side. He's certainly not in the top tier of fantasy starters given that the Bills are a run-oriented team and are expected to remain that way, but don't sleep on him either. He was actually the No. 13 fantasy QB in standard scoring last season, as those 580 rushing yards and six scores on the ground go a long way. With a full season from a healthy Sammy Watkins -- no sure thing -- and a coach that perhaps will open it up just a wee bit more than a run-stubborn Rex Ryan, there's no reason Taylor can't fit into the top 15 again.
In addition to slashing his 2017 base salary by more than $6 million, the deal improves Buffalo's long-term flexibility, which is something the team has heavily emphasized while negotiating with Taylor the past two offseasons. The 27-year-old quarterback has been good enough that the Bills don't want to let him go, but he apparently hasn't quite been good enough to warrant a true long-term investment. It's a bit surprising Taylor was amenable to a restructure that so obviously works in the team's favor, as he'd likely draw plenty of interest if he hit the open free-agent market. He's locked in as the starting quarterback in Buffalo, but only for the upcoming season. If he disappoints, the Bills will be able to trade or release him without taking much of a cap hit. Meanwhile, the team hasn't actively addressed its shaky receiving corps, signing Philly Brown but losing both Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. Of course, Sammy Watkins' health is more important than anything that happens in free agency or the draft.
Taylor's restructured contract reduces his 2017 cap hit from $16 million to just under $10 million while also decreasing the overall guaranteed money, The Buffalo News reports.
Taylor's old contract called for $30.75 million in guarantees if he remained on the roster past Saturday. The Bills want to keep him around for at least one more year as the starter, but they aren't quite ready for a more serious commitment -- apparently still unconvinced in the wake of back-to-back solid campaigns from the speedy quarterback. The result is a team-friendly deal which suggests Taylor has a strong desire to remain in Buffalo, as there's little question he'd be able to find a starting job in free agency. It will be interesting to see how Taylor works with new head coach Sean McDermott -- particularly if top wideout Sammy Watkins (foot) can finally get back to full strength. Taylor was medically cleared in late February for offseason activities, after undergoing surgery in January to repair a core muscle.
While the financial particulars of the deal have yet to be clarified, the move provides the Bills with valuable stability at the QB position, while keeping Taylor off the open market. Taylor, who turns 28 in August, is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he threw for 3,023 yards, while compiling a 17:6 TD:INT ratio over the course of 15 games. Meanwhile, Taylor bolstered his fantasy profile by running 95 times for 580 yards and six TDs. This coming season, he'll be playing under a new head coach (Sean McDermott), but the QB is in line to continue to work with talented wideout Sammy Watkins, who is on the mend following foot surgery. Meanwhile, the Bills' productive ground game will welcome back the likes of LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee.
|P2||8/17/17||@ PHI||7:00 pm|
|P3||8/26/17||@ BAL||7:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|4||10/1/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|5||10/8/17||@ CIN||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 6|
|9||11/2/17||@ NYJ||8:25 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|12||11/26/17||@ KC||1:00 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ NE||1:00 pm|
|17||12/31/17||@ MIA||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|