The Buffalo Bills find themselves in an interesting situation.
The quarterback they felt wasn't good enough is now needed to keep the team's postseason hopes alive. Tyrod Taylor will start Sunday against the Miami Dolphins after practicing fully this week following a one-game absence because of a knee injury.
The next three weeks will be the biggest of Taylor's career. Not only does he have the chance to lead Buffalo to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, he's also auditioning for 31 other teams in the event the Bills move on from him in the offseason. With that in mind, this week's mailbag starts with a question about Taylor. Let's get to it:
Nick Kobel: Do you think if Tyrod Taylor wins out the season the Bills make the playoff that there is a chance he’s on this roster in 2018?
Jay: I can’t rule that out. For it to happen, I’m with you that it would take a perfect finish to the season. Getting to 10-6 would give the Bills a great chance to end the postseason drought, and if Taylor was a big reason for that success, it would be acceptable to bring him back.
He’s signed for only one more year, so the Bills could have Taylor and Nathan Peterman compete for the starting job in 2018 and let the rookie they draft sit and learn for a season.
Do I think that scenario is likely? No. No. 1, I don’t see the Bills beating the Patriots in Week 16 – and am far from convinced they’ll even sweep the Dolphins. It would cost the Bills $18 million next year to bring Taylor back. At that amount, he would have to do something really, really special to convince the front office to spend that money.
Jeff Popple asks: You're on board with trading both of this year’s first-rounders and a whatever, second next year (?), to move up for a shot at whichever college QB they deem worthy?
Jay: Absolutely. Exactly how much they need to give up of course depends on how high they want to go. Last year, Houston traded up from No. 25 overall to Cleveland’s spot at No. 12 by also giving up their 2018 first-round pick. If the Bills want to get inside the top 10, it will take at least their two first-round picks, and probably more. But I say go for it. No. 1, General Manager Brandon Beane has amassed the draft capital to pull of such a move. Let’s say the Bills trade their two first-rounders and a second-rounder this year. They would still have one pick each in the first three rounds of the draft. That’s pretty good.
Landing a franchise quarterback has to be priority No. 1 for this front office, and that comes with paying a significant price. It will be a huge offseason for Beane in that regard.
Luigi Michael asks: Thinking Cordy Glenn is equivalent to having a third No. 1 pick via trade for Bills in offseason. Several needy teams. Your thoughts?
Jay: My thoughts are if the Bills could get a first-round pick for Cordy Glenn, Beane should be arrested and jailed for grand larceny.
It should be noted that Luigi asked this question before the Bills put Glenn on injured reserve and announced Friday that he will soon have foot surgery. Clearly, any team that would be interested in trading for him would have to be comfortable with his health first before making a deal.
Let’s assume Glenn makes a full recovery. He’ll be 29 early in the 2018 season. Any team that acquires him would assume a contract that has three years remaining and includes salary-cap charges of $9.75 million in 2018, $9.25 million in 2019 and $9.5 million in 2020. That’s not overly expensive for a left tackle, so Glenn very well may have some trade value, again, if he’s healthy.
If the Bills feel comfortable with rookie Dion Dawkins as their franchise left tackle, they may very well be open to the idea of trading Glenn. Here is what McDermott said Friday when asked what position he sees Dawkins playing long term: “Well, obviously that’s where he is right now. We’ll see. He’s done a phenomenal job, I think, for a young player at that position. He’s only going to get better, so we’re going to play him where he is most comfortable in a position of strength. But, every year is different. Every situation is different and we’re going to try and get our best five [linemen] on the field at all times.”
The Seahawks acquired left tackle Duane Brown and a 2018 fifth-round draft pick at the trade deadline from the Houston Texans for a 2018 third-round draft pick and a 2018 second-round pick.
Brown is four years older than Glenn, but is a more accomplished player, making the Pro Bowl three times and earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2012. He has one year left on his contract for $9.75 million.
Perhaps that helps set the market for any Glenn trade.
Ron T. asks: Can the Bills force Jay Cutler into mistakes?
Jay: “Mistakes” is Cutler’s middle name. In 150 career starts, he’s thrown 157 interceptions. That’s seventh among active players, but Cutler has played at least 32 games fewer than every player ahead of him on the list, the equivalent of two full seasons.
Before his excellent performance Monday night, Cutler had thrown six interceptions in his previous three games. There will be opportunities for members of the Bills’ secondary to make big plays against Cutler. They just have to make plays when they’re there.
Tim Bennett asks: Are the Bills ever going to land a high-octane, forward-thinking offensive coordinator? We haven't had one since Teddy Marchibroda.
Jay: This is a bad week to be asking this question. After watching Sean McDermott punt on fourth-and-1 from the Colts’ 41-yard line in overtime last week, I’ll never use the words “high octane” or “forward thinking” to describe him.
McDermott is just like very other football coach who appears allergic to new thinking. The question of whether the Bills will have the same offensive coordinator next season is a good one, but even if Rick Dennison gets replaced, I don’t expect his replacement to come in with a radically new approach.
“Bills MR. E” asks: Do you think Jordan Matthews will re-sign with the Bills?
Jay: No I don’t, and truthfully, why would he want to? A trip to injured reserve earlier this month ended the worst season of Matthews’ four-year career. He tweeted Thursday that he underwent surgery on his left knee and right ankle, injuries he says have bothered him for the last couple seasons.
Matthews’ time in Buffalo got off to a bad start when he suffered a chip fracture in his sternum 15 minutes into his first practice and it never really got better. If I were him, I’d be looking for a team with an established quarterback and a need for a slot receiver, which is his best position.
The Bills have Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones to build around at receiver moving forward.
Thomas Pullano asks: How would you review the preseason trade with the Eagles? Matthews has been a bust up here, but he might have been a rental anyway. Is a late third-round pick fair value for Ronald Darby, taking into account the fact he reportedly didn't fit that well into McDermott's scheme?
Jay: Let’s see what that third-round pick nets the Bills before we give the trade a grade. If it’s used as part of a package to move up and draft a quarterback, and that player finally becomes the answer at the position, then the trade was a good one. Even if the Bills keep the pick and that player becomes a meaningful contributor at another spot, it could still be a good deal. I agree that Matthews didn’t amount to much of anything here.
Darby, by the way, missed eight games because of an ankle injury suffered in the season opener. He has been a starter since returning in Week 11, and has four passes defensed and an interception in five total games.
“TNFP69” asks: Just seen the first mock draft on ESPN and they have us taking a linebacker first then a cornerback in the first round. Don’t you think if one is not a quarterback they would be going offensive lineman and defensive lineman before that?
Jay: Grammar pet peeve – you just “saw.” To your question, though, I would be very surprised by a cornerback in the first round, but free agency will play a part in that. My top priority would be bringing E.J. Gaines back. He’s been a good fit opposite Tre’Davious White. If that happens, cornerback would not be at the top of my draft needs list.
Any mock draft that doesn’t include a quarterback in the first round for the Bills makes me roll my eyes. To do that, I expect the Bills will have to package both of their first-round picks to move up. If they stay put, the next biggest position of need is up for debate. Defensive tackle is high on the list, especially if Kyle Williams retires, but a case could be made for a linebacker, too. Wide receiver and offensive line also could be considered, particularly with Glenn’s future unknown.
“Weathervane Jesus” asks: Why is Ryan Groy sitting and Vlad Ducasse playing?
Jay: Remember Punk’d? The MTV show that Ashton Kutcher created? I you never saw it, think Candid Camera. That’s what I feel like is happening every week in the mailbag.
*Finds closest mountain
***Screams the following:
“Ryan Groy isn’t starting because the coaching staff feels like Vlad Ducasse is better!!!”
Now, you are free to disagree about that. As the weekly questions would suggest, plenty of you do. But that’s the only answer I can give.
Great Tragically Hip reference, though, in your Twitter name.