The Buffalo Bills moved to squash rumors that E.J. Manuel was on the trade block, but the reprieve may do nothing to help the third-year quarterback regain his starting job with the team.
But the team’s new offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, quickly shot down the reports, saying the staff isn’t anywhere close to giving up on Manuel.
Greg Roman says speculation that EJ Manuel has fallen out of favor with the #Bills is the “furthest thing from the truth.”
— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) May 19, 2015
The Buffalo Bills have said publicly that the quarterback race is an open competition this year, with Manuel going against veteran Matt Cassel and the promising Tyrod Taylor.
There are signs that Manuel may already be falling behind. Though Taylor hasn’t gotten much playing time so far in his career behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore, he is very highly regarded by new head coach Rex Ryan.
“Tyrod Taylor’s kind of a wild card,” Ryan said. “Nobody really knows [about him]. All I know is he’s the fastest quarterback in the league. He’s had some good tape in preseason in particular. Didn’t play so well the one [regular-season] game he really played [against Cincinnati in 2012]. I tried to trade for him when I was with the Jets. I think he’ll have a chance.”
Ryan also made it a point to critique Manuel’s ability to get the ball out when comparing the three quarterbacks, leading many to think that he has fallen to the back of the pack.
Manuel does have his backers — including the team’s greatest quarterback ever. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly said that Manuel might be a great fit in Roman’s offense, especially with the team’s new offensive weapons, LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin.
“I don’t know; I think that with the new offensive system Greg Roman brings from San Francisco, I think it might be something that EJ needs,” Kelly said. “I hope he doesn’t (get cut). He’s a good kid. I’ve heard him talk to the players, I’ve heard what type of leader he is. He has it all. But he knows he has to get it done on the field. Now he has competition with Matt Cassel coming in who has a very, very strong arm. It’s a new system for both of them, it’s a learning experience for both of them. We’ll see what happens.”
Even if the rumors about E.J. Manuel falling in standing are true, the Buffalo Bills are more than likely to keep him around. Unless they can get a very good return on a trade — a fourth round pick or higher — it will be cheaper for the team to keep Manuel and his rookie contract around as a capable backup.
[Image via Getty Images/Vaughn Ridley]