Browns coach Hue Jackson still plans for Taylor to enter Week 1 as the starting quarterback, but Jackson did seem to acknowledge the possibility that No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield could make an unexpected push for the job, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "We have a plan and I want to work that plan as much as we can,'' Jackson said. "Now, can a player supersede that? You never know. I haven't had that happen, but right now this team is going to be led by Tyrod Taylor.''
Acquired from the Bills in exchange for a third-round draft pick, Taylor was named as the Browns' 2018 starting quarterback shortly after the trade in mid-March, despite the universal expectation that Cleveland would select a quarterback at No. 1 overall. The team ultimately used that pick on the 23-year-old Mayfield, whose combination of collegiate experience and production is unmatched among recent QB prospects. The decision leaves Taylor in a more precarious spot than if the Browns had drafted Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, though the 28-year-old still figures to have the inside track to a starting job, with Jackson already placing Taylor atop the depth chart for the beginning of training camp. Taylor figures to soak up the vast majority of first-team reps during spring practices, but it won't come as any surprise if Mayfield gets some of those opportunities in August.
Referencing Taylor, who the Browns recently acquired in a trade with the Bills, coach Hue Jackson confirmed that the 28-year-old is "going to be the starting quarterback (in 2018). There is no competition," Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
For now, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan remain on the Browns' roster, but it seems likely that the team will add another QB in April's draft, possibly with one of its two first-round picks. Taylor doesn't buy into the notion that he's simply a bridge QB, destined to to helm the offense while the Browns groom their next franchise QB, but that will be the perception if the team does indeed select a high-profile young signal-caller next month. For the foreseeable future, however, Taylor is in line to work with an intriguing collection of pass-catchers, featuring wideouts Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and Corey Coleman, as well as promising tight end David Njoku and change-of-pace back Duke Johnson. Assuming Taylor clicks with his new teammates, he brings some fantasy upside to the table in 2018, considering the points that he can rack up with his wheels, as well as his tendency to log a low turnover rate.
Adam Schefter is reporting the same deal. It looks like Taylor is on his way to Cleveland, where he'll be throwing to fellow Friday acquisition Jarvis Landry for what's certain to be a new-look team in 2018. It'll be interesting to see what the Browns do with the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks with two major deals out of the way, though it's conceivable they could still draft a top QB and let him get up to speed slowly while Taylor runs the show. The Bills will get pick No. 65 in the draft and currently own six selections out of the draft's first 96 picks.
General manager Brandon Beane reiterated this week that the team has no plans to cut Taylor before he's due a roster bonus March 16, Chris Brown of the Bills' official site reports. "Tyrod is on our roster right now and that's the plan," said Beane. "We're just taking it day by day. We're trying to get better everywhere, so we're looking at every position including quarterback, but Tyrod did a lot of good things for us. So I'm not really worried about the (roster) bonus. I see him on our roster right now. Unless something changes he'll be here through that part."
Earlier in the offseason, it seemed the veteran was as good as gone following an up-and-down season, highlighted by some surprise wins that featured some special plays by the mobile quarterback, with other games sprinkled in where he did little with the unexciting offense around him or his limitations as a passer were exposed. But the "Taylor's gone" tune has started to change lately, with one rational line of thinking saying the Bills will keep Taylor yet throw a young stud (the team has two first-round picks) into the mix to work behind him until that player is ready. This all said, the new Buffalo brass has proven in short time that it likes to mess with the recipe, so we also wouldn't rule out the team trading Taylor or making a play for a higher-level guy like Kirk Cousins. In any case, it's looking more like the team isn't going to simply cast him away.
Buffalo had considered getting rid of Taylor last offseason before he agreed to a restructured two-year contract, but that hardly gave the 28-year-old much job security heading into 2017. Another parting of ways seemed imminent after a healthy Taylor was benched in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman in the Week 11 game against the Chargers, though the veteran quickly recaptured the starting gig and helped lead the Bills to the postseason for the first time since 1999. Taylor's shortcomings as a passer were plainly visible in a wild-card round loss Jacksonville, wherein he completed 17 of 37 passes for 134 yards, no touchdowns and an interception before exiting on the final drive with a concussion, but there's something to be said about his mobility and ability to avoid turnovers, even though the latter often comes at the expense of big plays downfield. It's unknown if the Bills' current inclination to keep Taylor has more to do with the coaching staff coming around to recognize his strengths or a dissatisfaction with the quarterback options likely to be available via the draft or free agency, but for now, it sounds like Taylor's starting job could be safe, or at the very least he'll have a chance to fight for it. Taylor is owed a $10 million base salary for the coming season and is due a $6 million roster bonus March 16.
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