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What are Bills’ options with Tyrod Taylor and his looming bonus? – Buffalo Bills Blog

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The past two seasons have seen the debate about Tyrod Taylor shift. What was once discussion about whether Taylor is the Buffalo Bills‘ franchise quarterback has now become conversation about his immediate future with the team.

The downward trend of Taylor’s statistical performance since he won the Bills’ starting job in 2015 has made it increasingly difficult to argue Taylor is worth a long-term deal in Buffalo. However, his strengths relative to other options at quarterback still make Taylor viable as the Bills’ starter in 2018.

Clarity about Taylor’s status seems to be on the horizon. Taylor is due a $6 million roster bonus March 16, which is a checkpoint for Buffalo’s interest in keeping him next season. Free agency begins and trades can be executed the same week, which would be an opportunity for the Bills to find a replacement for Taylor on the veteran quarterback market.

In the almost seven weeks since the Bills’ season ended with a playoff loss to Jacksonville, there has been extensive analysis about the possibilities should Buffalo decide to trade or release Taylor.

But what if the Bills decide to keep Taylor?

Keeping Taylor on the roster March 16 and paying his bonus would not necessarily guarantee he is the starter next season, nor would it preclude Buffalo from swinging a trade to select a quarterback high in April’s draft.

Theoretically, the Bills could pay Taylor his bonus as insurance against not finding another quarterback this offseason, and later trade or release him if a better option is acquired.

Here are some pros and cons to consider under each scenario: the Bills trading or releasing Taylor, the Bills paying Taylor his bonus but later moving on, and the Bills keeping Taylor as their starter.

Trade or release Taylor before March 16

Pros: The Bills would avoid an unnecessary $6 million salary-cap charge (Taylor’s roster bonus) in 2018, when the team is somewhat limited against the cap. Trading or releasing Taylor before the roster bonus would free up $10 million in cap space, and the team could push another $5.6 million into 2019 by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. Doing so would cause Taylor’s entire $18 million cap number to count until June, but the transaction should help Buffalo either use the extra cap space to help fill holes on a thin roster or roll over the cap space into 2019.

After more than a year of uncertainty about his future, Taylor likely would appreciate the opportunity to find another team in March when starting jobs are open as opposed to being traded or released later in the offseason when teams already have set their quarterback plans. Much like the firing of offensive coordinator Rick Dennison last month, the Bills moving on from Taylor would probably receive a positive reception from fans looking for an upgrade from the NFL’s 31st-ranked passing offense last season.

Further, making a move with Taylor now would make the Bills a more attractive landing spot for a veteran free-agent quarterback. It is unlikely Buffalo would pursue Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum, but lower-cost options would see Buffalo as a much better fit if Taylor was not in the mix. Waiting to trade or release Taylor until later in the offseason could leave the Bills without a capable veteran in the quarterback room.

Cons: The Bills risk moving a chess piece without a plan for the next move. Executing a trade of Taylor might be difficult in the 32-hour window between the start of the free-agent signing period and when his roster bonus is due. Teams pursuing free-agent quarterbacks might not be ready to trade for Taylor until they learn whether they can make another signing. That could leave the Bills in a more desperate position to take a lesser deal for Taylor before the roster bonus is due, or could result in them releasing him without anything in return.

In the case of either a trade or release, the Bills would have a need for a veteran quarterback, which will eat into their salary-cap savings from Taylor. Letting Taylor go, not signing a top veteran free agent and missing on a top quarterback prospect in the draft would leave Buffalo in a precarious spot.

Pay Taylor his roster bonus but later trade or release him

Pros: The Bills would be eating $6 million of Taylor’s 2018 salary-cap charge, which could make him more attractive for a trade partner that would then only be inheriting a one-year deal with a $10 million salary and only $1 million guaranteed. While there are several options on the quarterback market this March that could make Taylor less valuable in a trade, there could be fewer players available in August in the event of a training camp injury. Such desperation allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to net a first-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings in September 2016 for Sam Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater‘s knee injury. The Eagles turned the offense over to then-rookie Carson Wentz, and the Bills could theoretically start a rookie if Taylor is traded late in the offseason or preseason.

Taylor also would act as insurance in case the Bills cannot acquire a quarterback they desire in the draft.

Cons: Buffalo might eventually be able to trade Taylor later in the offseason, but they would be essentially paying $6 million for a potentially higher return on the trade, which might not be worth it. Trading or releasing Taylor after June 1 would ensure that $5.6 million of his dead money hits the salary cap in 2019 and not 2018, but overall the Bills would still be paying $6 million more in dead money. With needs across the roster, that could be viewed as a waste.

Waiting until later in the offseason to make a move with Taylor also could preclude the Bills from adding a veteran in the spring. That means, without Taylor by September, the Bills could be left with only a rookie and Nathan Peterman under center — or be searching for another option.

Keep Taylor as the starter in 2018

Pros: This is what the Bills opted to do after exploring their options last offseason. It was the safe route, and whether Buffalo would have been better off transitioning to a younger quarterback is still up for debate. But the decision to keep Taylor steadied the Bills’ ship under first-year coach Sean McDermott and contributed to a playoff berth.

Because of Taylor’s restructured contract, the Bills have no commitment to him beyond 2018. That could make him an attractive bridge option who starts this season and eventually yields the job to a draft pick. The Bills might be able to find a cheaper quarterback to fill that role on the free-agent market, but that might either cost more or result in a less talented player. Taylor’s cost is still aligned with his value.

Cons: Fan sentiment can be hard to measure, but keeping Taylor for a fourth season as the starter could be a hard sell for a fan base that generally seemed anxious for change by the end of last season. Taylor has not shown he can help the Bills take the next step, and after seven seasons in the NFL, it is fair to question whether Taylor will get any better. McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane helped create a sense of progress around the Bills last season, but keeping Taylor could cause stagnation to creep in.

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Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson calls Kansas City Chiefs ‘our Kryptonite’

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BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens stumbled against the Kansas City Chiefs once again, losing 34-20 on Monday Night Football in a game that ended their 14-game regular-season winning streak and left them feeling stripped of their cape.

Asked how the Ravens can get over the hurdle of beating the Chiefs, Jackson interjected by saying: “Our Kryptonite.”

Jackson fell to 0-3 against the Chiefs after passing for a career-worst 97 yards. He’s 21-1 against the rest of the NFL in the regular season.

The reigning NFL MVP, Jackson has completed 67% of his passes against the other 31 teams with a 72.9 Total QBR. Against Kansas City, he has connected on 53% of his throws with a 58.5 QBR.

The Chiefs kept Jackson off his game by blitzing him on 35% of his dropbacks, compared to 29% by all other teams, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“It looked like the same thing from the Tennessee game [2019 divisional playoff] to be honest — that’s all,” Jackson said.

The Ravens (2-1) had been the hottest team in the NFL. They hadn’t lost a regular-season game in almost a full calendar year (their last defeat was Sept. 29, 2019 to the Browns). Baltimore had led at halftime in 11 straight games and hadn’t trailed in the second half at any point in 13 consecutive games.

But Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives to jump out to a 27-10 lead in the second quarter. Baltimore closed to within 27-20 in the fourth quarter, but Kansas City responded with a 2-yard touchdown pass to left tackle Eric Fisher to seal the victory.

“I’m really looking forward to earning the right to try to face them again,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “I’m very confident if we played the game that we’re supposed to, we can hang with those guys.”

Even though it’s Week 3, this loss could have ramifications for the Ravens in January. Baltimore’s chances for capturing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs dropped to 35% while Kansas City’s chances increased to 43%.

Now, the Ravens have to wonder what it’s going to take to beat the Chiefs if they meet them in the postseason.

“They beat us. They out-executed us. They out-game planned us. They just beat us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the story tonight. Big-picture stuff, all of that, I don’t know. They’re better, obviously. They’re a better football team at this point in time.”

The Ravens slipped out of first place in the AFC North for the first time since Week 15 of 2018, moving behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0). That ended a streak of 21 weeks of holding at least a share of the lead in the division.

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The Lamar Jackson-Patrick Mahomes rivalry isn’t one yet

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Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are many things — quarterbacks, playmakers, artists and friends. But right now, one thing they are most certainly not is rivals.

Mahomes is too good to have a rival. He proved Monday night that he is playing a different game than everybody else, with the same wonderment in his eye he had as a kid shagging flies at the World Series that his father’s Mets played against the Yankees two decades ago.

A fake jump pass. Precise throws against the grain. A perfectly placed long ball into the back of the end zone. A touchdown strike while taking a shot to the ribs. A six-point softball pitch to a fullback. A six-point lob to a left tackle. It all added up to pro football’s Big Two being reduced to pro football’s Big One.

The quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs threw for four touchdowns and 385 yards, and ran for a score, while the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens threw for one touchdown and 97 yards, and ran for no scores. The Ravens lost, 34-20, in a fashion that felt a bit similar to their flameout loss to the Titans in January, convincing nobody that they represent a good bet to ultimately unseat the Chiefs as AFC champs.

The night was rightfully advertised as a historic matchup of young megastars who have done their teams and their league proud through performance and generosity of spirit. Mahomes had a Super Bowl ring and a league MVP award at age 24. Jackson became the youngest quarterback to win a league MVP award at 23. The distance between the two of them, today, is wider than that sounds. Mahomes is 3-0 against Jackson, and, of course, holds a 1-0 lead in Super Bowl titles.

Monday night offered a clash of the NFL’s two most exciting franchise players and their distinct styles. Unlike the quarterbacks who defined the sport’s last epic rivalry, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Jackson and Mahomes don’t quite play the same game. Jackson has great feet and a very good arm. Mahomes has a great arm and very good feet. When they decide to abandon the pass and take off with the ball, they deploy a different approach to the process.

One looks like he’s ripping the heart out of the defense. The other looks like he’s playing a practical joke on the defense.

“Mahomes makes great runs, but his runs are like freeform, off-the-cuff,” said Joshua Harris, Jackson’s personal coach. “Even his running style is almost playground-ish; it’s almost like he’s laughing while he’s running. He doesn’t look like he’s really moving, but he’s getting chunks.

“Lamar runs on a mission. He runs with bad intentions, and he’s trying to score. Nobody runs like Lamar runs. I don’t even think running backs run like him.”

Mahomes ran mischievously for a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Jackson rushed with more force for 83 yards, or 57 more than his counterpart did, but never found the end zone. Edge, and a big one, to the reigning Super Bowl MVP.


The good news for Baltimore fans? This was a hyped-up regular season game and Jackson has plenty of time to catch up to Mahomes to make this a true rivalry. Manning lost his first six meetings with Brady, but ended up winning six of the final 11, including their last three duels in the AFC Championship Game.

The better news for NFL fans everywhere? Sometime in the not-too-distant future, people might look at the classic pocket passer the way they now look at a rotary phone, a typewriter or a grainy film of a basketball player taking a two-hand set shot.

“In our minds,” said Harris, “when we’re talking 10 years from now, that generation will be like, ‘What, the quarterback didn’t run in the past? What were you idiots thinking? You just wanted him to stand there and get pummeled?”

Pro football has finally embraced the obvious, more than a few decades too late, allowing Jackson and Mahomes to turn Monday Night Football into a showcase for arguably the two most accomplished young quarterbacks ever.

Jackson’s inability to beat his friend isn’t for a lack of trying. This past offseason, he again worked on his game with his tutor, the 39-year-old Harris, a former college defensive end who has been a throwing coach, a serviceman in the Air Force, a lawyer, an English teacher, and a college team chaplain — a Renaissance man who has helped Baltimore’s quarterback redefine the position. Harris thought Jackson didn’t throw the deep ball late last year as consistently as he did earlier in the season, so they worked on tilting his shoulders for an improved trajectory and an easier ball for receivers to find in mid-flight. Coach and pupil also worked on aligning Jackson’s feet and using his lower half to achieve maximum velocity on passes traveling outside the numbers.

Harris half-jokingly asked Jackson to ease up on his fascination with sidearm passes. “It’s effective,” Harris told him, “but let’s not do it all the time.”

Jackson’s stated goal, according to Harris, is “to be Tom Brady with 4.4. speed.” But if he wants to go down among the greats, Jackson knows he needs to win the Super Bowl, more than once. And as much as he says he focuses on an opposing team’s defense, not its quarterback, Jackson had to be motivated by Mahomes’ MVP performance in his Super Bowl victory over San Francisco.

“It was a source of inspiration,” Harris confirmed. “But I love the way it formed and shaped in Lamar’s mind. It was, ‘Let me be a part of that club. Man, that’s awesome for Pat, now I want to join that same team.’

“Lamar wants to be the best, but he genuinely loves every other player. He’s a fan of Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson, and Kyler Murray. The rivalry is Lamar vs. Lamar, and I love that about him. He’s the right guy to be one of the leaders of this revolution and new way to play the game, and probably the right way to play the game.”


Archie Manning laughed the other day when told that the NFL had finally come back around to his style of quarterbacking, passing the lead-footed likes of his sons Peyton and Eli along the way. Archie ran for his life more than he actually ran for the horrid New Orleans Saints of the 1970s, but he did rush for 14 touchdowns and more than 500 yards during one season at Ole Miss, and he did run a 10.2 in the 100-yard dash. They didn’t regularly time players in the forty back then, but when Archie was asked to do it — by an Oakland Raiders scout before the 1971 draft — he ran a 4.6 with a cast on his broken arm. Manning wasn’t Lamar Jackson, but the man could move.

Archie said he is proud of the success of his former Manning Passing Academy counselors, Jackson and Mahomes, who were among 40 top college quarterbacks who attend the camp every year.

“I loved watching Lamar play in college,” Archie said. “This is a different thing happening at the quarterback position now, and Lamar and Patrick are leading the way. I think there will always be a place in pro football for a pocket passer, for a Brady or a Peyton, but I think what these young quarterbacks are doing now is great for the league. I just want them to get down.

“With the athleticism and size and strength of linebackers and safeties, it’s more dangerous now than when I played.”

On the rivalry that he lived every day with his son, Archie said that Peyton always felt he was competing against Bill Belichick more than he was competing against Brady. But Archie conceded that Peyton’s AFC Championship Game victories over New England minimized the legacy damage done by Brady’s considerable advantage in Super Bowl rings (6-2) and in their 17 head-to-head meetings (11-6).

Lamar Jackson does not have to worry about climbing out of those kinds of depths — yet. For now, Jackson cannot spend any time or energy on winning his rivalry with Patrick Mahomes.

He needs to focus on making it a rivalry first.

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes fastest to 10,000 passing yards

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the fastest passer in NFL history to 10,000 career yards in the first quarter of Monday night’s 34-20 win over the host Baltimore Ravens.

Mahomes, in his 34th regular-season start, completed a 13-yard pass to Travis Kelce that put him over the 10,000-yard mark. Kurt Warner previously held the record at 36 games.

Mahomes finished with 385 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He tied Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford for second-most in three passing-TD games at age 25 or younger with 17, surpassing Peyton Manning. Dan Marino holds that mark with 28.

Mahomes in his first season as a starter in 2018 became only the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in one season.

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