At least one significant offseason question for the Buffalo Bills has an answer: Matt Barkley will mentor rookie quarterback Josh Allen.
"Josh is the future of the Bills, and I want to see him be the best player he can be for this organization," Barkley told The Buffalo News on Friday, after the team announced that he signed a two-year contract extension through the 2020 season.
Barkley did plenty to create an inside track on the No. 2 job when, less than two weeks after signing with the Bills in the midst of a run of injuries, he led a 41-10 pounding of the New York Jets.
Barkley's opportunity came after Derek Anderson, originally signed to fill the mentoring role, suffered a concussion in the Bills' Oct. 29 loss against the New England Patriots and was out of action until last week.
"It's fantastic. It really is," said the 28-year-old Barkley, who is with his fifth NFL team since being drafted from USC by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round in 2013. He also spent time with the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals.
"I think my journey through the NFL has been kind of unexpected, not only to me, to other people," Barkley said. "So to be able to continue to grow and be in a place where I know I want to be and where I can only see this organization going forward and getting better, it's really exciting."
He believes he has plenty to offer to help with Allen's development.
"I'm six years into the NFL now, so I have experience," Barkley said. "I mean, even from my days at USC, we were running a pro-style offense with a lot of the same stuff that I'm running now here. Just my knowledge of the offense and really how to read out the plays, read out defenses. And Josh is a smart kid, so he picks things up very quickly and can analyze both the defense and what we're doing on offense very quickly.
"It's not a matter of really just coaching him. It's really just getting, I think, a different perspective on learning for him and seeing things he might not see on the field. He's focusing on the play, wherever we can watch the DBs or watch other things on the sidelines, so really it's just giving him the different perspectives, challenging him, too — teaching him what it means to be a pro, whether that's showing up extra early or leaving late. He's doing a lot of good things and we're just trying to help him any way we can."
Coach Sean McDermott admired the fact that Barkley is one of the most excited players on the Bills' sideline for Allen's role in leading Buffalo to last Sunday's victory against Detroit.
"To have the outlook, he’s got a daily — call it joy, I guess, about him, a presence and energy about him, a positive vibe where he roots for Josh," McDermott said Monday. "I think there was a clip that people caught on the sideline on 4th-and-1 at the end of the game, and that says a lot about Matt, and the way that he was raised and what he’s added to this point. I know what he did with the Jets week there, but also and just as important is what he does when he’s not on the field and how he supports.
"He’s very unselfish, as I mentioned in his approach, same with Derek Anderson. That’s how you build a football team, with unselfish guys that put the team first and are happy when someone else has success."
Story topics: Matt Barkley