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Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: With Taylor, it's an either-or proposition

You have Buffalo Bills questions (not surprisingly, the majority of which are about Tyrod Taylor's future with the team) that you've submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.

I've got answers:

@jvznghi: They must sign Tyrod Taylor or forget 2017. With any defense they might have snuck in. Unless somebody better, he's it.

VC: It's fair to say that, with no clear-cut better alternative at quarterback, Taylor does give the Bills their best immediate chance to be a playoff contender.

The decision they have to make is whether they're prepared to commit to him for a minimum of three seasons, which would likely be the case if they pay the $30.75 million in guaranteed money that comes with picking the option on his extension.

It's pretty much an either or proposition, because, based on everything I've been told, Taylor is unwilling to agree to a restructured contract that would reduce his pay. He and his agent, Adisa Bakari, are firmly convinced they would receive every bit as much as the Bills would have to pay in accordance with the extension -- if not more -- in the open market.

The Cleveland Browns could very well be waiting with open arms ... and an open vault?

If the Bills decide to go with 2016 fourth-round draft pick Cardale Jones as their quarterback, or perhaps a rookie, they are probably doing so as part of a sweeping roster overhaul.

@duncan11jd: Is trading Tyrod Taylor a realistic possibility if they want to move on?

VC: Not really.

Of course, the Bills could try to trade him. But why would another team want to give up anything for Taylor when the Bills' mere attempt to move him would signal the likelihood that they don't want to keep him.

And if that's the case, any team interested in trading for him would simply wait for him to become available in the open market.

@8three7six6zero: Why is everyone so sure TT is gone?

VC: I agree that it's probably a bit presumptuous to view Taylor's departure from the Bills as a given.

My best guess on what has mainly driven the conversation that he's a goner is the widely held notion that General Manager Doug Whaley decided last season that Taylor didn't perform well enough for the Bills to pick up the extension option and was ready to move on from him.

But new coach Sean McDermott has so far done a good job of keeping his opinions about Taylor under a tight lid, and that, as much as anything, has a lot of people guessing. He could very well want Taylor to stay, and if that's the case, it wouldn't be a shock if he got his way.

@WheresAlby: How much longer will Whaley be GM?

VC: By all indications, team owners Terry and Kim Pegula continue to have a great deal of trust that Doug Whaley is the right choice to be their general manager.

If they were going to part ways with him, the obvious timing would have been at the end of the 2016 season, when they fired Rex Ryan as their coach. In keeping Whaley, they demonstrated a clear belief that he and the player-personnel staff had put together a strong enough roster for the Bills to reach the playoffs in each of the last two full seasons of their ownership and that the failure to do so was because of poor coaching.

The Pegulas also have a strong personal bond with Whaley and his wife, Stephanie, who is known to have a close friendship with Kim. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course. Football is a business of people, and it's natural for those involved to develop an affinity for each other. The potential danger is in allowing that to stand in the way of the often difficult business decisions.

My sense is that, with McDermott beginning his first year as head coach and expected to have a significant say in how the roster is assembled, Whaley could find himself more professionally challenged than he was by Ryan.

How the Bills emerge from many critical offseason moves, not the least of which is who will be the starting quarterback, would also figure to be something for the Pegulas to consider in assessing Whaley -- beyond how much they like him as a person.

@ZBIV42: Doesn't it seem like we should either keep both Tyrod and LeSean, or dump both? i.e., have a real plan, win now or in 3 yrs?

VC: There is plenty of merit to your perspective.

Keeping Taylor and McCoy would mean the Bills have two reasonably large investments in their offense -- to go along with those that mainly are on defense -- and, therefore, signal a win-now mentality.

That has largely been the approach of the past few seasons, with no winning (as in enough to reach the playoffs) to show for it. If another swing for the fences in terms of a salary-cap-heavy roster comes up short again, then all the Bills will have done is mostly delayed an inevitable rebuilding project.

Although McDermott has a five-year contract, is it safe to assume that he can sacrifice a year if Taylor doesn't have a spectacular season and the record remains at or falls below .500, regardless of whether McCoy leads the Bills to a third consecutive season as the NFL's top rushing team? Ryan only got the first two seasons of his five-year deal, and the Pegulas have yet to show they have any trouble paying people not to work for them.

It would make sense for McDermott to be thinking more long-term, but will he and Whaley, who is responsible for the win-now moves the team has made, have a consensus on that?

@ats1018: Trade up to one (in the draft). Thoughts?

VC: I'm not in favor of it. I'm almost never in favor of trading up in the draft.

The only time such a move might make sense is if you're thoroughly convinced that that's the path to long-term answer at quarterback. I don't think such a QB exists in this draft, and I would never make such a trade for any other position.

For too long, the Bills have been overpaying for better draft position and not seeing anything close to the desired results. Sammy Watkins, for whom they traded up in 2014, hasn't been healthy enough to consistently show his dynamic skills as a receiver and is recovering from his third surgery since joining the team. Reggie Ragland, for whom they traded up last year, suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp and whether he will be a good fit at linebacker in the defense of McDermott and coordinator Leslie Frazier remains to be seen.

There's a saying that I've heard from some of the best current and former GMs in the league: "Let the draft come to you." The Bills would be wise to follow that advice more often than not.

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