Photo Credit: USA Today
ORCHARD PARK – Since being benched in favor of rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman back in Week 11, the writing has been on the wall for former Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
The long-perceived belief that the Bills would be moving on from the three-year starter came to fruition on Friday as reports from both ESPN’s Adam Schefter and the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, announced that they had shipped Taylor three hours down I-90, to Cleveland in exchange for a third-round pick. The pick is No. 65 overall, which is the first selection of the third round.
Neither team has confirmed the deal. It can’t be made official until 4 pm on March 14.
With a $6 million roster bonus in Taylor’s contract set to kick in on March 16 – two days into the new league year – the clock was ticking on Buffalo to either cut or trade the 28-year-old before that figure became fully guaranteed. It was reported back in February that releasing the mobile QB was not part of their plans, something head coach Sean McDermott confirmed at the NFL Combine last week. General manager Brandon Beane followed McDermott’s confirmation by saying they weren’t concerned with paying Taylor the bonus, adding that they were “taking it day-by-day.” Whether or not the Bills were bluffing is now a moot point as the Browns will now be responsible for paying Taylor’s roster bonus a week from today.
Despite quarterbacking the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 17 years this past season, Taylor’s play wasn’t exactly inspiring throughout his three seasons in Buffalo. Brought in to compete for the starting job during former head coach Rex Ryan’s first year in charge, Taylor leaves with a record just over .500 at 22-20, having thrown for 8,857 yards and 51 touchdowns as a member of the Bills. He also rushed for 14 touchdowns and posted a 62.6 completion percentage. However, his not so flattering statistics include a 2-14 record when he threw the ball more than 30 times, a 4-21 record when his team trailed by more than four points at any point of a game, and only one 300+ yard passing performance, which is uncharacteristic for today’s NFL.
Taylor had plenty of sympathizers in Buffalo who felt a lack of legitimate weapons held him back from reaching his full potential. That certainly won’t be an excuse with his new team. About an hour before Taylor’s trade came down, the Browns acquired the NFL’s 2017 receptions leader, Jarvis Landry from the Dolphins via trade to pair with troubled star Josh Gordon. Cleveland also features third-year man Corey Coleman at wideout, along with tight end David Njoku and versatile running back Duke Johnson out of the backfield.
By trading Taylor, the Bills will save $10.44 million. As his remaining signing bonus payments accelerate onto this upcoming season’s cap, they’ll be on the hook for a $7.64 million in dead money. The Browns will take on Taylor’s $10 million base salary along with the aforementioned roster bonus, costing them $16 million but have no long-term commitments to him beyond this season.
Meanwhile, this move and the addition of a third-round pick will only further fuel the rumors that Buffalo is looking to trade up in the draft to select a quarterback. With six picks in the first three rounds, they certainly have more than enough capital to do it.