Buffalo Bills Rumors: Open Quarterback Competition Could Mark End Of E.J. Manuel’s Tenure

The Buffalo Bills are planning an open competition at quarterback, and that could mean bad things for E.J. Manuel.

The first-round draft pick saw his starting spot go up in smoke last year, getting pulled after four games in favor of veteran Kyle Orton. Now that Doug Marrone is out and Rex Ryan is in as head coach, Manuel’s place on the team could be even more precarious.

One of Ryan’s first moves after coming in was to trade for veteran Matt Cassel. Just a few days later, Ryan picked up free agent Tyrod Taylor, who played backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore.

Rex Ryan hasn’t tipped his hand, saying only that all three quarterbacks will go in with a chance for the starting job.

“It’s going to be open,” Ryan told WGR radio, via the team’s official website. “It’s a competition and whoever earns the job will be the guy that’s out there.”

Though Rex Ryan spoke highly of all three (plus Jeff Tuel, the team’s practice squad quarterback), rumors indicate that E.J. Manuel could be the low man on the Buffalo Bills totem pole. Among the three quarterbacks vying for the top spot, he is the only one not hand-picked by Ryan. In the past, Ryan’s Jets have made Manuel look like something far from a starting quarterback.

There are many who think that Matt Cassel is on track to be the team’s starter, including Pro Football Talk.

“Backup quarterback” may be more of a value judgment than a job title, and Matt Cassel‘s an illustation of that.

The Bills trade acquisition said at his introductory press conference that he “expects there will be a competition” with EJ Manuel for the starting job, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.

Cassel had settled back into what may be his perfect role in Minnesota (as a bridge for Teddy Bridgewater), but upon being traded to the Bills, he’s again thrust into a spot where he might be the best option.

The Buffalo Bills appear to be constructing a team built to win regardless of the quarterback. Ryan traded promising but injury-plagued linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles for running back LeSean McCoy, then also picked up wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Charles Clay.

It won’t be clear until the team moves into OTAs and then training camp which quarterback is rising to the top, but the acquisitions suggest that going with a steady hand like Matt Cassel might be the best course of action for the Buffalo Bills.

[Image via ESPN]