Tyrod Taylor played what has been his prototypical game this season Sunday for the Buffalo Bills.
That is to say, he wasn’t great, and he wasn’t terrible.
Taylor finished 17 of 24 for 174 yards and one touchdown. He ran seven times for 49 yards. He was sacked once and did not turn the ball over.
It was a perfectly acceptable performance, but not one that will likely make many observers change their mind about what the Bills have in Taylor. For starters, it came against what might go down as the worst team in NFL history. It’s not like Taylor lit things up, either. Even his touchdown pass to Charles Clay was off target and would have been an incompletion if not for a great grab by the tight end.
By now, the decision facing the Bills in regards to Taylor is well known. His contract option would guarantee him nearly $31 million and make it difficult for the Bills to move on from him for at least three more seasons.
If they’re not ready to make that type of financial commitment, here is a preliminary look at which quarterbacks could be available either through free agency or via trade.
• Tony Romo: Definitely the most interesting name on the list, Romo has a contract that pays him $14 million in base salary in 2017. That’s reasonable money by starting-quarterback standards, but at 37, he’s coming off a rash of serious injuries. There is also the issue of whether Romo would want to come to Buffalo. At this point in his career, it’s easy to see how that would be a tough sell. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones loves Romo, and if the team decides to move on from him, it would make sense that they’d do all they could to work out a deal to Romo’s preferred destination.
• Jay Cutler: His base salary is just $12.5 million for next season, which is on the low end for quarterbacks. Because of that, the Bears may just decide to keep him. That could change if coach John Fox is fired, depending on the feelings of the new head coach. Cutler’s 2016 season ended because of a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, so it’s a must that any team acquiring him carefully goes over his medical records.
• Kirk Cousins: He’s playing on the franchise tag this season. Washington has the option to use the tag on him again, but doing so would cost nearly $24 million. The two sides could try to work out a long-term deal, but Cousins in that scenario would want substantially more than the $24 million the tag would give him. The last option would be if he reached unrestricted free agency, which would give the Bills and every other NFL team the same chance to steal him away.
• Blake Bortles: The Jaguars fired coach Gus Bradley on Sunday, so any decision on Bortles will have to wait until a new staff is hired. Bortles has one season remaining on his rookie contract, which would give a new team an opportunity to evaluate him in 2017 before making a decision on his option for 2018. Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015, but has taken a step back in 2016.
• Jimmy Garoppolo: Would the Patriots trade him within the division? They did it once before, when they got a first-round draft pick for Drew Bledsoe from the Bills. Would Buffalo offer that much again, this time for Garoppolo? It would be hard for New England to say no, particularly with Tom Brady looking indestructible and Jacoby Brissett in the system to be a backup. Garoppolo was very good in two starts before getting hurt while Brady was suspended to start the season. Any team acquiring Garoppolo in a trade would likely want to sign him to a contract extension.
• Sam Bradford: Maybe Bradford could get another team to trade a first-round draft pick for him. Just kidding. It’s hard to see how the compensation could be that high again, but Bradford very well could be traded if the Vikings could find a partner and were confident Teddy Bridgewater will be able to return from a devastating knee injury in 2017. It seems more likely that Bradford is released before the Vikings have to pay a $4 million roster bonus in March.
• Mike Glennon: He has 18 career starts and has thrown for 30 career touchdowns against 15 interceptions. Those types of numbers figure to give Glennon a shot somewhere as a starter. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this year, and is likely to leave Tampa Bay, where he’s stuck behind Jameis Winston.
• A.J. McCarron: He played fairly well in three regular-season starts for the Bengals at the end of the 2015 season in place of the injured Andy Dalton, but struggled in the wild-card round against Pittsburgh. McCarron is entering the final year of his contract and would need to be acquired via trade. The Bengals might be open to it, though, with an established starter and the likelihood McCarron would leave after 2017 for no compensation other than a possible 2019 compensatory draft pick.
• Landry Jones: He has just limited playing time, making three starts over the last two years with the Steelers in place of an injured Ben Roethlisberger. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent and has career numbers of 61 of 104, 794 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.
• Ryan Fitzpatrick: Hey, he’s going to be a free agent! The market for Fitz won’t be big after his disastrous 2016 season, which has seen him get benched for Bryce Petty and throw just 10 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. If the Bills want to go into a total rebuild, though, Fitzpatrick might … ok, we’ll stop.