INDIANAPOLIS – With a new head coach and an easy reset button to hit at quarterback, the Buffalo Bills could easily blow things up.
If the team wanted to enter into a full-scale rebuild, it would only take a few moves to get there.
Step No. 1 would be to walk away from quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the contract option that would pay him nearly $31 million. Step No. 2 would be to part ways with high-priced veterans, someone like Kyle Williams, for example.
After digesting what new head coach Sean McDermott had to say at the NFL Scouting Combine, that does not appear to be the route the Bills plan to take. The first big news Wednesday came shortly before McDermott took the podium for his first press conference since being introduced Jan. 13, when the team announced that Williams will return in 2017.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kyle," McDermott said. "Again, what he's done for the Bills' organization, one of our leaders ... we look forward to working with Kyle."
The 33-year-old defensive tackle started 15 games for the Bills in 2016, finishing with 64 tackles and five sacks. He has a salary-cap charge of $8.3 million for 2017, however, leading to some speculation that he could be a cap casualty. That would be particularly true if the Bills decided to rebuild their roster. McDermott, however, put an end to that speculation Wednesday.
During a phone interview with The Buffalo News on Wednesday, Williams said he's returning in 2017 because of McDermott's vision for the team.
"More than anything, he talked about us winning," Williams said. "Going out and feeling like we had good pieces in place, things that we could build on to have a winning football team, and me being a big part of that and having an opportunity to continue my career with the Bills and see my commitment all the way through."
At the end of the 2016 season, Williams talked about the uncertainty that came with a new coaching staff.
"I never really said that I didn't want to play anymore," he said. "I just said that I don't know that I would be part of a new regime's plans or if I wanted to be part of the plans if they were going to do a major reconstruction of everything, because in all honesty, if they were going to do a mjaor reconstruction, I'm probabably at the top of the chopping block there. But from my understanding, he wants to win, he wants to win now, and I want to be a part of it. I want to see everything I've wanted to accomplish in Buffalo through to the end, so that's kind of how we got here."
Another hint the plan in 2017 isn't to blow things up came when McDermott addressed coaching LeSean McCoy.
"Well, LeSean and I were together in Philadelphia, so I know what he brings to the table," the coach said. "It's been fun to watch him mature over the years and really develop on and off the field. I'm excited about working with LeSean, because he's a dynamic player."
If the Bills had any plans to move on from McCoy – either by trading him or cutting him – McDermott likely would have chosen his words differently.
Speaking with The Buffalo News after his press conference, McDermott was asked about the idea of entering into a rebuild.
"I'm a competitive guy by nature," he said. "That's not my nature. We're going to go out there to compete, both in practice and in the games. At the same time, that's where the process comes in. We're going to make the best decisions for this football team and this organiation moving forward, short term and long term."
"Process," was undoubtedly the buzz word of McDermott's press conference. He said it a dozen times in a 12-minute question-and-answer setting. The biggest piece of that will be determining what to do with Taylor. The Bills have until March 11 to exercise his contract option or release him.
"You look at it from all different angles," McDermott said. "And so you compare Tyrod based on the quarterback position, the intangibles you look for, the critical factors at the position, and then, yes, you look at it from other options, from other areas as well, and that being the candidates that are out there on the free agent market."
The Bills have 22 pending unrestricted free agents, which has understandably kept McDermott and his coaching staff busy doing evaluations. The fact that he hasn't spoken publicly since being hired marks a big change from his predecessor – who never saw a TV camera he wasn't attracted to – but gives a good glimpse into the approach McDermott is taking.
"I believe in doing things the right way," he said. "I certainly want to give you guys an opportunity and respect the jobs that you guys have to do. Having said that, we've got a job to do on our side and some important decisions. A month and a half into it, that communication and the time spent in order to make the right decision has been important."
No nonsense. Straight to the point. That's the approach McDermott is taking in trying to make the Bills a winner – as soon as the 2017 season.