Six potential landing spots for Tyrod Taylor in 2018, including one AFC East team
Taylor should have no shortage of possible suitors this offseason
If the Bills release Taylor in the offseason -- he's due a $6 million roster bonus and $10 million in base salary -- it will clear $9.4 million in salary-cap space, according to Spotrac. For now, the team will kick the tires on rookie fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman to determine if he can replace Taylor atop the depth chart. And if not, the team has two 2018 first-round picks to find their next franchise quarterback.
Taylor ranks 20th in value per play among all quarterbacks, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, just behind Russell Wilson and Marcus Mariota. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus has Taylor as its ninth-best quarterback and he's tied for fourth in passer rating (82.3) while facing pressure, behind only Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Mariota.
In the meantime, Taylor joins a growing list of possible free agents looking for work. As ESPN's Field Yates points out, the 2018 free-agent quarterback class could include Taylor, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Josh McCown, Mike Glennon and Blake Bortles.
So where might Taylor be a good fit next season? Let's look at six possible landing spots.
Blaine Gabbert could start for Arizona this week. This is reason enough to include Taylor here. There are long-term reasons too; chief among them: Carson Palmer is 37 years old and even before he was injured he ranked 20th in value per play among all passers, according to Football Outsiders. This is after he ranked 23rd last season. In 2015, Palmer was first. it's hard to imagine he comes back next season (he's on the books for $12.5 million in 2018) and even if he does, the Cardinals need a plan for Life After Carson.
The Browns have the draft picks to get whichever quarterback they fancy in the 2018 NFL Draft but given their history, they can't have enough quarterbacks on the roster competing for playing time. In 2016, the Robert Griffin III experiment didn't work, and then-rookie Cody Kessler went 0-8 as a starter. In 2017, rookie second-rounder DeShone Kizer has struggled mightily which, if nothing else, reinforces that he isn't the long-term answer either. Taylor could be an intriguing choice because coach Hue Jackson has been known to get the most out of his quarterbacks. This assumes, of course, that Jackson is around next season (and those are probably long odds given that he's won once in 25 games).
Also not great: The Broncos' quarterback situation. Trevor Siemian, the man tasked with succeeding Peyton Manning after the 2015 season, was benched two weeks ago. His replacement, Brock Osweiler, was benched in Houston last year before being traded to Cleveland in the offseason, where he was released just before the season. Put another way: Osweiler isn't the answer, either now or later. There's also 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch, but he has been slowed by a shoulder injury and isn't ready to take his turn on the Broncos' QB carousel.
The Jaguars are one of the NFL's best teams despite their quarterback. Think about that. In an era where you have to have a franchise quarterback to win a Super Bowl, the Jags are not only 6-3 and tied atop their division, they are on pace to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. And this is with Blake Bortles under center! The same Blake Bortles who has never completed more than 59 percent of his passes, and as ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted during training camp, since 2014 Bortles led the league in turnovers (63) and was second in interceptions (51), including 11 pick-sixes. Last season, when the Jaguars won just three times, Bortles ranked 23rd among all quarterbacks, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. Through nine games this season, he ranks 18th among all quarterbacks, is completing 58.6 percent of his passes, and has 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Serviceable, we guess, but certainly not great.
New York Jets
Six words: Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty. McCown is 38 years young and neither Hackenberg (the 2016 second-round pick) nor Petty (a 2015 fourth-round) have been good enough to unseat him. In fact, when Rex Ryan was the Jets coach he desperately tried to get Taylor. Here's what Ryan recently told ESPN.com's Rich Cimini:
"I wanted Tyrod Taylor when I was with the Jets," Ryan said in a phone interview. At the time, Taylor was a seldom-used backup for the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan said Cam Cameron, the Ravens' offensive coordinator and a close friend, was "the guy that turned me onto him." The way Ryan tells it, he approached the front office about trading for Taylor, but it apparently gained little to no traction.
Instead of making a move for Taylor, the Jets took Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After Mark Sanchez suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, Smith was forced into the starting job as a rookie. The team won two more games than they had the year before and finished 8-8, but Smith was one of the league's worst quarterbacks -- though arguably a better option than Hackenberg or Petty. An ever better option? Tyrod Taylor.
We think Kirk Cousins is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks -- -- but it remains unclear if team president Bruce Allen feels similarly. Washington has twice used the franchise tag on Cousins, and he could end up elsewhere in 2018. Which leaves a gaping void at quarterback. Taylor wouldn't be our first choice for coach Jay Gruden's offense, but he's a proficient deep-ball passer and of the possible free agents mentioned above, only Alex Smith would be a better option. (The best option, however, remains paying Kirk Cousins.)
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