Topics addressed in this week's mailbag include Chad Kelly, Nathan Peterman, Kelvin Benjamin and the Bills' return game. Let's get to your questions ...
EB asks: Chad Kelly. Thoughts?
Jay: In a word, no. Kelly is obviously troubled. He’s been booted from every program he’s been a part of, going back to St. Joe’s. Think about how poor a person’s decision making is if they’re throwing away an NFL career. That’s what Kelly did. Given his background, he had to know he had a one-strike policy with the Broncos, and he couldn’t even last two years.
Sean McDermott can’t tout the virtues of character as often as he does and then sign Kelly without looking like a hypocrite. i get the Kelly question, though, particularly because of questions like this ...
Nick Ilardi asks: How on earth is Nathan Peterman still on this team?
Jay: Because the team needs a backup quarterback. This is a better question to ask once Josh Allen is healthy. I could see Peterman being released at that point and signed to the practice squad. That assumes he clears waivers, which I don’t see being a problem.
For now, though, Peterman sticks because he’d be forced to play if something were to happen to Anderson. He at least knows the system. He might not be able to execute it, but at least he knows it.
Bills_Fan_in SD asks: Does Josh Allen play next week? I’m flying in from San Diego to see the game live. If not, can we trade back for Tyrod Taylor?
Jay: My best guess is no, but it’s just that – a guess. Allen didn’t practice all week and the Bills were quick to rule him out for Monday night, so it’s not like he was close to playing in Week 8. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen sit out until after the Bills’ bye, which comes in Week 11. That would give him six weeks of recovery time, which should hopefully be enough to get him back to 100 percent. The Bills would then have the final six games of the season to get more of a read on what they have in Allen.
As for Taylor, he heads into free agency this upcoming offseason. It’s hard to imagine him signing as an unquestioned starter somewhere. His best hope is to find a competition and try to win a starting role that way, which he has experience doing here in Buffalo.
Karen Sniadecki asks: What would be the harm in sitting Kelvin Benjamin? His work ethic has certainly earned him a well-deserved seat. And his “production” wouldn’t be missed.
Jay: The simple reason is you need someone to play the position. The Bills carry just five receivers on the 53-man roster, and two of them are rookies – sixth-round pick Ray-Ray McCloud and undrafted Cam Phillips. McCloud was left home last week in what he team termed a “football decision,” so that left them with just four available receivers.
The other reason you wouldn’t bench Benjamin is if you were interested in moving him before the trade deadline, which comes Tuesday. If that were the case, the team would be better off using him and hoping he can catch the eye of another team. Perhaps he did that by making four catches for 71 yards last week.
Rick McGuire asks: I know we’re a long way off and will have a very interesting free-agency period to get through first, but do you see Brandon Beane being more of a keeper or trader of the Bills’ first-round pick in April?
Jay: Based on Beane’s brief track record in the draft, I’d say trader. He moved up twice in the first round in April to land Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds. With 10 draft picks at the moment, he might have the ammunition to do that again if there’s a player he’s convinced is worth doing so for. The other option, and it’s one I would favor, would be moving down to accumulate more draft picks – particularly in the second round. The Bills have a massive talent deficiency, and need premium draft picks (found in rounds 1-3) to fill it. If there’s a team that wants to move up for a quarterback and is willing to blow the Bills away for an offer, it would make sense to move down. Of course, we don’t know where the Bills will draft. As of now, they are sixth in the draft order. If they get into the top five, the more valuable the pick becomes in a trade. Beane, though, would have to weigh that against simply using the pick on a blue-chip prospect.
Joe Rindfuss asks: The Bills went many years without having a decent return guy until we signed Brandon Tate, now they are back to playing without one again. Why did they ever let him go?
Jay: At least on kick returns, Tate’s production started to decline in 2017. He averaged just 19.6 yards per return on 28 attempts, which ranked last among 12 qualified leaders (players with at least 20 attempts). It was a different story on punt returns. Tate ranked sixth in the NFL last year, averaging 9.7 yards per return on 20 attempts. The issue was a lack of big plays. Tate’s longest punt return last year was just 40 yards.
To Joe’s point, though, the Bills have not found an adequate replacement. Both Marcus Murphy and McCloud have been given an opportunity, and both have lost the job. McCloud fumbled twice in Houston, one on a kickoff and one on a punt, then found himself left home the following week. He was drafted at least in part to be a part of an improved punt-return unit, but it hasn’t happened. The Bills have been forced to use sure-handed safety Micah Hyde on punt returns, but that’s not an ideal scenario given how important he is to the defense.
Given the rules changes to kickoff returns, the importance of that job can be debated, but having an explosive punt returner who is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball is something the Bills are currently lacking.
Jeffrey J. asks: Did you watch the Sabres?
Jay: I did. It’s refreshing for them not to be terrible, isn’t it?
IowaBills asks: Why does God hate the Bills?
Jay: I'd say that’s a pretty good look into the psyche of our two pro sports team’s fanbases at the moment. Thanks for all the questions this week!
Story topics: Brandon Beane/ Brandon Tate/ Cam Phillips/ Chad Kelly/ Josh Allen/ Kelvin Benjamin/ Marcus Murphy/ Micah Hyde/ Nathan Peterman/ Ray-Ray McCloud/ Sean McDermott/ Tremaine Edmunds/ Tyrod Taylor