Last offseason, the Buffalo Bills held a quarterback competition between EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, and Tyrod Taylor. Manuel had been the team's first-round pick two years earlier. Cassel had years of experience as a starter. Taylor had thrown just 35 career passes in four years backing up Joe Flacco with the Ravens. Taylor won the competition anyway.
As you'll see below, Taylor's first season as a starter couldn't really have turned out better, at least in terms of his on-field performance. The issue, of course, is that the Bills only have him under guaranteed contract for one more year. He's working on a deal that carries a $3.1 million cap hit in 2016 and a voidable salary of $1.3 million for the 2017 season.
That may change soon, though, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora is reporting that the Bills and Taylor are working on a new deal for the 27-year-old passer.
If the Bills are able to come to terms with QB Tyrod Taylor, the template they are discussing is a bridge deal in the range of 2yrs, $30M— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 4, 2016
According to La Canfora, the team was against entering into talks most of the offseason but has changed that in recent weeks. They two sides have been exchanging ideas for a while, and it's now expected that they'll work something out, given the amount of progress that has been made. It's not clear whether the two years and $30 million would be tacked onto Taylor's current contract (presumably replacing the 2017 voidable salary if so) or replace that deal altogether.
Either way, a contract like the one La Canfora described would make Taylor the 23rd-highest-paid quarterback in the league on an annual basis, per Spotrac. Basically, every veteran starter except for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Robert Griffin III would be making more on a per-year basis than Taylor. That sounds about right for a player that doesn't have all that much experience, but whose small track record is all positive.
Just before the start of the 2015 season, then-Bills wideout Percy Harvin told the team's official web site that Taylor would be "tremendous" under center. Our SportsLine projection model agreed with his assessment, giving Buffalo a 63.2 percent chance of going to the playoffs with Taylor as the starter, six percent better than the projections with Cassel as the starter.
Buffalo didn't end up making the playoffs, but the system was right about Taylor's impact. In his first season as a starter, Tyrod completed 63.7 percent of his passes at 8.0 yards per attempt, with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He posted a 99.4 passer rating, and his 1.6 percent interception rate was fourth-best among quarterbacks that attempted at least 350 passes.
|Stat||Comp %||YPA||TD %||INT %||RTG|
| Rank (out of 26) ||16||5||T-12||4||7|
Pro-Football-Reference has a series of index statistics, which compare how a quarterback performed to the league average. Taylor checked in three percent better than average in completion percentage, 19 percent better than average in yards per attempt, nine percent better than average in touchdown rate, 20 percent better than average in interception rate, and 15 percent better than average in passer rating. The only thing he didn't do at an above-average rate was avoid sacks, which he took 18 percent more often as a percentage of drop-backs than the average quarterback.
If the two sides can work out an extension along the lines of what La Canfora laid out, it would be a significant financial commitment that should make Taylor happy, but not one that would cripple the Bills for years if it turns out Taylor's first year as a starter was more mirage than reality.