Bills sticking with QB Tyrod Taylor after reworking contract
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is staying put in Buffalo.
The Bills ended two months of uncertainty on Wednesday by announcing Taylor would remain in Buffalo for a third season after agreeing to restructure his five-year contract extension. The deal was reached a day before the NFL’s free-agency period opens, and with Buffalo facing a deadline on Saturday on whether to activate or opt out of the extension Taylor signed in August.
The move cleared the biggest offseason question for the Bills, who are undergoing their latest transformation under newly hired coach Sean McDermott , who took over in January after Rex Ryan was fired.
Saying the team took a methodical approach in exploring all options, McDermott credited Taylor for making the decision an easy one because of his desire to stay in Buffalo.
“This thing shaped up the right way and really, I feel this is a good move and in the best interest of the organization at this time,” McDermott said. “All these conversations about this and that, and which direction we’re going? Well, this is where we are.”
In establishing a rapport with Taylor the past two months, McDermott said he was impressed by the quarterback’s character and work ethic.
McDermott wouldn’t speculate on whether the Bills would have kept Taylor had he not agreed to restructure his contract by saying the team never reached that point in its decision-making process.
Taylor even questioned his future in Buffalo once Ryan was fired and the starter was benched for the Bills season finale against the New York Jets.
Buffalo did briefly explore at least one other option at quarterback by having preliminary talks with eight-year journeyman Brian Hoyer on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The person spoke to The Associated Press because the sensitive nature of talk and because the Bills did not disclose their plans.
The Bills’ interest in Hoyer, however, ended with Taylor’s decision to rework his contract.
Under the initial contract extension, Taylor was due to be paid just under $31 million in salary and bonuses during the first year of the deal, and count nearly $16 million against Buffalo’s salary cap.
That’s a pricey amount for a team that was set to begin free agency with about $22 million in salary cap space and with numerous needs to address including holes at receiver and defensive back.
The Bills quickly turned their attention to adding players, including two fullbacks.
A person with direct knowledge of the decision told The AP that Patrick DiMarco agreed to sign a four-year, $8.4 million contract in which $4.2 million is guaranteed. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.
DiMarco has five NFL seasons of experience, including spending the past four with Atlanta.
The Bills announced they agreed to sign former Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert, and re-sign punter Colton Schmidt, who had been released on Monday. The Bills also released receiver Marcus Easley, who has been sidelined since sustaining an injury to his left knee in December 2015.
Taylor has a 15-14 record in two seasons with Buffalo. He signed with the Bills two years ago after spending his first four NFL seasons serving as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore.
He’s coming off an inconsistent season in going 7-8 last year.
Taylor went 269 of 436 for 3,023 yards passing, with 17 touchdowns passing versus just six interceptions. He continued to be a dual threat as a runner in finishing with 580 yards rushing to break the franchise record for quarterbacks he set a year earlier.
Critics of Taylor say he hesitates in the pocket, can’t win games with his arm and struggles in rallying the Bills when trailing.
In two seasons, Taylor had a 1-10 record when attempting 30 or more passes. He was also 2-14 in games Buffalo trailed by 4 points or more at any juncture of a game.
In Taylor’s defense last season, the Bills were plagued by injuries at receiver with starter Sammy Watkins limited to playing just eight games after aggravated an injury to his surgically repaired left foot. Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin missed a handful of games due to an assortment of injuries, while Greg Salas, Walt Powell and Percy Harvin finished the year on injured reserve.
Taylor’s development in Buffalo will now be overseen by two newcomers, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and quarterbacks coach David Culley. Dennison is already familiar with Taylor as he was the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach in 2014.
The quarterback position has been unsettled in Buffalo since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season.
Since then, Buffalo has had 12 players start at least eight games. And only one, Drew Bledsoe from 2002-04, has held the starting job through three consecutive seasons.
The Bills are also in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought, the NFL’s longest active streak.
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