The Buffalo Bills are rumored to be moving closer to a long-term deal for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, with reports that that the team could be locking down its starting quarterback before the season starts.
Taylor was a revelation last season for a team that’s been struggling to find stability behind the center. The Bills entered training camp in 2015 with a big question mark at the quarterback position, with Taylor going into the preseason in an open competition with both E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel. Eventually, Taylor seized control with a strong showing and anchored the position during the season.
Taylor threw for 3,035 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing 63.7 percent of his passes. He added another 568 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. It was the best season by a Bills quarterback since Drew Bledsoe came to the team at the turn of the 21st century.
There had been talk throughout the offseason that the Buffalo Bills were engaged in preliminary talks to extend Taylor’s contract for the long term, and those negotiations appeared to take a step forward this week.
NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport reported early on Monday that the Bills were in negotiations with Taylor’s camp, and there was a good chance of a deal getting done before the season kicks off in a few weeks. This came after several weeks of no updates from the negotiation table, and it was starting to look like the two sides may have lost steam on the work done this offseason.
Negotiations between the #Bills & QB Tyrod Taylor are ongoing and there is plenty of optimism a deal gets done before the season begins.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 1, 2016
The talks seem to be a reflection of the faith the Bills have shown in Taylor after just one season. Though there are still some concerns with his decision-making and his ability to stay healthy after Taylor missed two games last year after getting injured on an improvised run, the team believes he can replicate his success in 2016.
“I feel great about him,” Ryan told USA Today Sports. “I think the entire league is going to realize that, ‘Oh, my gosh, who is this kid?’ And if you don’t know, you’re going to find out that he’s a special talent. His mechanics are outstanding. He protects the football team, doesn’t make bad choices. He’s smart, and man, he can throw it and he can run with it.”
Part of the expected improvement come through Taylor having an entire offseason to build chemistry with his offense. Taylor came to the Bills early in the 2015 offseason, but he was splitting first-team reps between two other quarterbacks throughout training camp and the preseason.
It also took a little longer in the season for Taylor to develop chemistry with some of the players, notably Sammy Watkins. The two started to click in the second half of the season with Watkins averaging close to 100 yards a game over the last eight games of the season.
“I think he’s even going to go higher and higher,” Ryan said. “He only had the one year as a starter. Now, he’s just going to get better and better, more familiar.”
It was Taylor and the surprisingly strong Buffalo Bills offense that kept the team in playoff contention until late in the season with the defense seeing a sharp drop-off in Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach. With many expecting the defense to level off in the second year of Ryan’s scheme, an equally strong performance by Tyrod Taylor and the offense could help put an end to the team’s 16-year playoff drought.
There is still some questions surrounding the team’s negotiations. While the rumors indicated that the Buffalo Bills and Tyrod Taylor are working toward a deal, it’s not clear how many years and how much salary Taylor will command and just how close to two sides are to getting it done.
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