Unrestricted free agency opens in the NFL with the start of the new league year on March 9. With 22 players set to hit the open market, the Buffalo Bills have plenty decisions to make between now and then. The Buffalo News will take a look at each player with an expiring contract, and offer a verdict on what the team should do. First up is quarterback EJ Manuel.
Position: Quarterback. Age: 26. 2016 stats: 6 games, 1 start, 11 of 26, 131 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 8 rushes, 22 yards.
Working in his favor: He plays quarterback. That’s about the best case that can be made. Depending on what happens with starter Tyrod Taylor, the only other player under contract at the position is the unproven Cardale Jones. Manuel has been around, and is a consummate professional who could serve as veteran depth. It’s clear General Manager Doug Whaley has a soft spot for him, too.
Working against him: In 16 starts, Manuel has a 6-10 record, with a 77.5 passer rating. Any remaining hope for him to develop into the franchise quarterback he was supposed to be when drafted in the first round in 2013 likely went out the window in the season finale against the New York Jets, when he looked as inaccurate and indecisive as ever.
Verdict: Manuel’s time with the Bills should be over. His legacy will be that of a first-round draft bust, even if it’s not his fault the Bills reached for him. Some may argue that Manuel was never given a fair shake, but two separate coaching staffs agreed he wasn’t good enough. Now on his third agent as a pro, his best hope is to compete for a backup job somewhere, but it shouldn’t be in Buffalo.