The Tyrod Taylor era is most likely over with the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo seemed willing to move on from Taylor before the start of the 2017 season, but the quarterback agreed to restructure his contract. Taylor essentially agreed to a $10 million pay cut to remain with the team. In season, the Bills seemed ready for a change when Sean McDermott announced that rookie Nathan Peterman would start against the Chargers. Taylor would be inserted back as the starter after Peterman’s disastrous first half against Los Angeles, but the writing was on the wall. Buffalo was ready to move on from Taylor.
At this point, releasing or trading the quarterback wholesale jerseys seems more realistic than bringing Taylor back to the team in 2018. If Taylor’s time with Buffalo is over, who will start for Buffalo in 2018?
Following Buffalo’s loss to the Jaguars, ESPN asked six of their NFL Insiders who they believe would be the Bills’ primary starter in 2018. Nathan Peterman ended up being the leading vote-getter. Matt Bowen, Mike Sando and Field Yates all selected Buffalo’s fifth-round pick.
Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Peterman for now — but let’s keep an eye on the draft and free agency. With two picks in the first round (Nos. 21 and 22), the Bills might be in a position to draft Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield or they could test free agency with veteran Case Keenum if he hits the market.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Peterman is the leader in the clubhouse, but when I projected starters to various teams during a project last month, Smith came to mind as a good fit. Of course, Smith would be a good fit lots of places. Some Bills fans groaned when I suggested Mayfield could be a quarterback available to Buffalo when the Bills are drafting. Truth is it’s just too early to know how the team will proceed at the position.
Field Yates, NFL Insider: Peterman, but I don’t think that means he’s the long-term answer. The Bills are a unique team in that they made the postseason while also acquiring draft capital in the offseason in the form of extra first-, second- and third-round picks. That puts Buffalo in a spot to draft a young quarterback early in 2018 while also leaning on Peterman early in the season if the drafted quarterback is not an immediate plug-and-play starter.
Mike Clay, Dan Graziano and Mike Rodak all voted for outside options. Clay chose veteran Sam Bradford while Graziano and Rodak see Alex Smith as Buffalo’s next signal-caller.
Mike Clay, NFL writer: Sam Bradford. Sean McDermott made it pretty clear during the regular season that he’s looking for a change from Taylor, so look for the team to add a veteran to compete with Nate Peterman for the 2018 job. Bradford makes a ton of sense as a solid veteran who plays efficient ball — a logical fit for a run-first team that wants to lean on its defense. Considering his durability concerns, a relatively inexpensive one- or two-year deal makes sense for both sides.
Dan Graziano, NFL writer: Alex Smith. I say Buffalo drafts another quarterback and signs a veteran. Could be tough for Smith to swallow another situation in which he’s holding a spot for a draft pick and might be there only a year or two, but Buffalo has a lot to offer as a playoff team with a run game and a good defense. Peterman is of course in the picture, but I doubt the Bills feel great about anointing him the starter this offseason.
Mike Rodak, ESPN NFL Nation Bills writer: Smith. A lot depends on whether the Bills decide to keep offensive coordinator Rick Dennison or, if not, what sort of quarterback they see fitting their scheme. But the strategy from Buffalo could mirror what the Chiefs had this season: a game-managing veteran keeping the seat warm for a high draft pick at the position. If the asking price is reasonable for Smith in a trade, I could see Bills coach Sean McDermott doing a deal with his mentor, Andy Reid. Whomever the Bills sign, the expectation is they will draft a quarterback in the first round, potentially by trading up with their No. 21 and No. 22 (from Kansas City) picks they own.
Buffalo has plenty of time to decide what to do at quarterback, but it seems likely that a quarterback other than Taylor will be under center for the team in 2018.