INDIANAPOLIS -- The Buffalo Bills are about a week away from another potential franchise-altering decision at quarterback, and it’s causing considerable consternation within the organization.
League sources say a chasm remains between coaches and the front office whether to execute a $30M option on the promising-but-unproven quarterback. As I reported in December, Buffalo’s decision makers -- general manager Doug Whaley, senior VP of football administration Jim Overdorf and team president Russ Brandon -- decided they didn’t want to pay Taylor in 2017. They wanted Taylor out as starter late in last season (he was shut down for Week 17 once owner Terry Pegula fired coach Rex Ryan), and that has not changed.
The front office still feels the current salary structure they negotiated themselves a year ago -- instead of a more standard year-to-year, pay-as-you-go format -- doesn’t make sense, thus their interest in veteran QB options like Tony Romo and Brian Hoyer. However, new coach Sean McDermott and Pegula have become close. McDermott and his staff are not convinced they will find an upgrade over Taylor and see no problem with paying Taylor $17M a year, the sources say.
So, mere months into Buffalo’s latest regime change, they are at another crossroads of their own making (choosing this contract structure for Taylor’s extension was puzzling from the start). While I wouldn’t underestimate how highly the owner thinks of his new coach, picking up a $30M option is no small thing for even the richest men to consider. And the front-office core Pegula has relied upon for years remains firmly in the don’t-pick-up-the-option camp.
In the meantime, the Bills continue to monitor the veteran QB market, meeting with agents to gauge price points of free-agent options. Some in that building remain intrigued by the prospect of trading for Romo, though the feasibility is under question and I’ve heard Buffalo is not Romo’s favored locale.
They’ll have to decide whether Taylor’s option is the safest, most prudent route. One thing is for certain -- this coaching staff has no qualms about working with him and would prefer to do so. And Taylor hits the open market I have no doubt he would fare quite well.