CLEVELAND — Well, the Cleveland writers are already joking about the Tyrod Taylor era in the press room at the MAC Tournament. Suffice it to say, they don't see Taylor as the quarterback of the future, the man who will lead the misbegotten Browns out of the NFL wilderness.
But that's not Buffalo's problem anymore. The Browns gave the Bills a third-round pick for Tyrod on Friday, and I have to say I'm a little stunned by the news. Not that Brandon Beane would trade Taylor, but that any NFL team would be willing to give up that much, knowing that the Bills might well cut him.
I was on record that the Bills ought to cut Taylor and move on. I never bought the idea that they would pay him the $6 million bonus next week, simply to keep him around as insurance. When Sean McDermott pulled Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman in the middle of a playoff race, it was clear where the new regime stood on Tyrod's future. He wasn't their guy, whether they broke the playoff drought or not.
So getting a third-round pick was a coup for Beane as he approaches his first draft as an NFL general manager. It gives him six picks in the first three rounds of the draft. This should make it easier for the Bills to trade up for one of the top quarterbacks. It makes me more confident that Beane and Co. have such a maneuver in mind. At some point, you have to pay what it takes to get your franchise quarterback.
Taylor wasn't that guy. I assume the Browns see him as a bridge QB. It's hard to imagine they wouldn't take one of the top quarterbacks with either the first or fourth pick in the draft. If they see Taylor as a guy who can make them average in the short term, good luck to them.
The Bills spent three years with Taylor as their bridge quarterback. Tyrod's supporters used statistics to argue that he was a top 15 NFL quarterback, but when you're consistently near the bottom of the NFL in passing yards, it's a difficult case to make. Over the last 15 years, the Bills are dead last in the league in passing yards. He was responsible for three years of it, but he did very little to alter the trend.
It's time to find a real answer at the position, and this deal is a belated admission that the Bills need to get into the modern era and become a real passing team in a passing league. Tyrod was a good guy, a hard worker and a loyal teammate who never said a bad word about his coaches, even when McDermott embarrassed him by playing Peterman against the Chargers.
But Taylor is not a franchise quarterback and never will be. His gifts are evident. He's a remarkable, elusive runner who can turn potential sacks into big plays. But he's an inferior passer who rarely led his team from behind and could not be counted on to sustain late drives on his passing arm alone.
So he's gone and it's time for the Bills to make the bold moves necessary to find their quarterback in the draft. They can't be afraid to fail. Sometimes, you have to be willing to take a shot. You can't play it safe. That's how Taylor plays quarterback, by taking the safe shot and limiting his chances to throw an interception.
For three years, that's how Bills coaches ran their offense, by working around Taylor's shortcomings as a passer. Browns fans will find out soon enough how limited he really is. At times, Tyrod talked about being unappreciated in Buffalo. But he got his big chance with the Bills and never got any better.
I wish him well in Cleveland. The best thing you could say for Taylor is he wouldn't lose the game for you. When you've gone 1-31 over the last two seasons, as the Browns have, it probably seems like an upgrade.