The Buffalo Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns on Friday, opening up the question of who their starting quarterback will be in 2018?
Since the retirement of Jim Kelly following the 1996 season, the Buffalo Bills have been wading through a quarterback graveyard. There have been some hopeful candidates to take the throne, ranging from Drew Bledsoe and JP Losman to Ryan Fitzpatrick and, now, Tyrod Taylor.
On Friday, general manager Brandon Beane decided to move on from the former Virginia Tech star, trading him to the Cleveland Browns for a third-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Taylor was never a star with Buffalo, but he was serviceable. The Bills got two 3,000-yard seasons from Taylor despite little help on the outside, all while seeing him throw only 16 interceptions in three campaigns.
Now, with Taylor shipped off, the question is clear: who are the Bills going after to start at quarterback?
Buffalo has a litany of options, both in free agency and the draft. The Bills are projected to have $34.7 million in cap space when Taylor’s deal becomes official on March 14, the start of the league year. With that amount of money, the Bills can be aggressive in terms of courting Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, A.J. McCarron, Case Keenum or even Kirk Cousins, although that would be a reach.
More likely, Buffalo is going to be very aggressive in the draft. The Bills are one of two teams armed with multiple first-round picks, the 21st and 22nd-overall selections. Buffalo could package those along with some other later-round choices (perhaps the one it just got from Cleveland) to move up and get into the bidding for Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold.
Beane could also stand pat and wait for Lamar Jackson, who might very well be there when Buffalo comes on the clock.
Either way, the Bills are not standing pat after making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and that’s the right decision. Taylor is a good player, but he was never a franchise guy, and he wasn’t going to be on the team when his deal expired a year from now.
If Buffalo ever wants to challenge for anything of note, it will have to find that true successor to Kelly. Maybe this time, the Bills get it right.