Buffalo Bills Need To Lock Down Tyrod Taylor To End Playoff Drought, Ensure A Bright Future

The Buffalo Bills have now gone two decades trying — and failing — to find a franchise quarterback.

They now have the chance to lock one down, and they can’t let it get away.

The team’s playoff drought, which has now lasted 17 seasons, has come down largely to their failure to find a quality starting quarterback. The Bills have tried using a first round pick on a quarterback, only to stumble with the mistake-prone J.P. Losman and the disappointing E.J. Manuel.

They tried finding a quarterback later in the draft they could develop into a starter, but other than some brief mediocrity under Trent Edwards found a dead-end there as well. In fact, the only decent quarterback play the Bills have found during their futile stretch has been free agent and seventh round draft pick Ryan Fitzpatrick and a pair of seasons under Drew Bledsoe.

But now the Bills have finally found what appears to be a capable quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. After a disappointing drop in the team’s defense under Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach, it was Taylor who led a surprisingly dangerous offense and helped the team to eight wins.

The Buffalo Bills have plenty of weapons on offense. Sammy Watkins was perhaps the best wide receiver over the second half of the season, topping 1,000 yards overall despite having just 147 yards seven games into the season. The team’s rushing attack could be among the deepest in the league, led by LeSean McCoy and backed by surprising rookie Karlos Williams and the better-than-advertised Mike Gillislee.

With Taylor leading the way — and assuming the Bills are able to fix the defensive problems in the second year under Ryan’s scheme — the Bills will be a real contender for a playoff spot in 2016. But on a longer timeline, signing Tyrod Taylor must be a priority for the Bills during the season. A lack of quarterback stability has been the team’s downfall since the retirement of Jim Kelly, with a scattered strong season under Doug Flutie and another under Drew Bledsoe the only relief for fans.

Taylor was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the 2015-16 season, taking care of the ball and moving the ball reliably both through the air and on the ground.

The Buffalo Bills have a chance to turn around their playoff drought by locking down Tyrod Taylor for the long-term, and they can’t let it get away. The team has reportedly been involved in some contract talks, but the general consensus is that they will use the 2016 season as a test to see if Taylor can turn in another performance equal to last season.

That could be a risky strategy. It’s certainly in the team’s best interest to make sure that their long-term investment is worth it, but they must start the negotiations early enough to keep Taylor from thinking about other options. The Bills will have the potential use of the franchise tag in their back pocket, but that should be a last resort.

It’s already clear that other teams have eyes for Tyrod Taylor. After Brock Osweiler bolted on the Denver Broncos this offseason, there were rumors that Denver’s front office inquired about what it would take to bring Taylor over in a trade.

The Buffalo Bills are likely to see the writing on the wall. They have a franchise quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, one who will be leading them back to the playoffs in 2016 and many seasons to come. Now they just need to buckle down and make it happen.

[Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]

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