As the quarterback market keeps soaring, Tyrod Taylor can only keep smiling.
Andrew Luck is coming off the worst of his four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts -- a year the Bills helped him begin on an awful note at The Ralph -- and on Wednesday he became the richest player in the NFL with a five-year, $122.97 million contract extension.
The Houston Texans lavished Brock Osweiler, he of only seven career starts, with a deal worth $18 million annually. After only his first full season as a starter, Kirk Cousins is guaranteed to earn nearly $20 million this year under a franchise tag, but there are still two weeks left until the deadline for the Washington Redskins to give him a lucrative long-term deal. Otherwise, they face the very real prospect of having to pay him even more after the season.
The list of established veteran quarterbacks who will be using the Luck contract as the foundation for future negotiations -- in the order of the year when their contracts are due to expire -- includes New Orleans' Drew Brees (2016), Detroit's Matthew Stafford (2017), and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (2018). Look for even more staggering dollar figures from this bunch.
And then there's Taylor.
Like Brees, he becomes a free agent after this season. Like the Saints, the Bills are taking a wait-and-see approach.
The big difference, besides the fact Brees has a Super Bowl ring and Hall-of-Fame credentials and Taylor made the first 14 starts of his NFL career last season, is that Brees' salary-cap number is $30 million while Taylor's is $3.133 million. Brees also is 37, while Taylor turns 27 in August.
Before Luck's agreement jumped into his briefcase, Taylor's agent, Adisa Bakari, was already well armed with plenty of ammunition from the Osweiler and Cousins situations. Bakari wants the Bills to come to the realization they have the best quarterback they've had since Jim Kelly and that there isn't anyone on the horizon who is going to be better. He's probably right on both counts, which is why he wants the Bills to make the kind of offer Taylor has no choice but to sign now or at some point before the end of the 2016 campaign.
Taylor did more good than bad as a first-time starter. He has areas he can improve and, while the Bills might be right in wanting a bit more proof that he's worthy of the sort of financial commitment that marries them to him for years, they can't deny how sharp he looked through offseason workouts. He was in a class by himself as EJ Manuel had his typical problems with pocket indecision and Cardale Jones looked like the ultra-raw rookie he was expected to look like.
This isn't the Tyrod Taylor who began a three-way competition for the starting job in 2015 at the bottom of the depth chart. This isn't the guy who was merely happy for the opportunity to compete and prove what he can do.
Taylor knows he already has proven plenty. Yes, he can prove more. He can prove that he can win a game largely on the strength of his passing arm, such as when he attempts 30 or more passes. He can prove that he can lead the Bills from behind for a victory. He can prove that he can complete more passes to the middle of the field, something he was doing with regularity during OTAs and minicamp. He can prove that he can have success with less reliance on his feet.
But the meter is running on the No. 5 taxi and the Bills are sitting in the back seat watching as the digits increase.
Make no mistake. This is money the Bills will gladly spend. Every team wants a franchise quarterback to pay handsomely and some, such as the Colts, do so even when his most recent season is far from spectacular.
The reality of NFL quarterbacking these days is that consistently good and competent are enough to pull the door to the bank vault wide open. At the very least, Taylor has those traits.
Chances are, the Bills are going to arrive at a point where they're convinced he has much more. The only questions are when and how much will it cost when that time comes?