The Buffalo Bills suddenly have an opening on their quarterback depth chart after veteran Derek Anderson informed General Manager Brandon Beane on Thursday that he intends to retire.
Anderson, who makes his offseason home in Arizona, had not participated in the team's offseason conditioning program to this point. In an interview with The Buffalo News, Beane confirmed that Anderson had let him know "a few weeks back" that he was considering retirement.
"I knew going into the draft this was something that could potentially happen, but it wasn't definite," Beane said. "We talked again this week, and he let me know today that he is going to retire."
As for why he decided to retire, Beane chose to let Anderson disclose that, but did say "he knows that it takes a certain amount to get himself ready, a commitment, and I told him 'if you're not all in, that's not good for you or for us. Think about it.' You don't ever want to talk somebody out of retirement. If they're kind of leaning ... that way, that's the best decision for them, which means it's also the best decision for us."
Anderson, 35, came to the Bills in October of the 2018 season. He was thrust into the starting lineup less than two weeks later after rookie starter Josh Allen suffered an elbow injury in a Week 5 game against Houston, a game that was lost when backup Nathan Peterman threw a crushing pick-six.
Anderson went 20 of 31 for 175 yards and three interceptions in a 37-5 loss to Indianapolis in Week 6, then started again the following week against New England on Monday Night Football. He was 22 of 39 for 290 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in that contest before leaving late in the game with a concussion – an injury that would keep him out for multiple weeks.
Still, Anderson served an important role for the Bills as a veteran mentor to Allen, the team's prized acquisition of the 2018 draft. Allen made mention several times last season of how valuable Anderson's guidance was to him, leading the Bills to announce a one-year contract with Anderson the day after the 2018 season concluded.
"I mean Derek, we appreciate what he did," Beane said. "He came in in a tough spot. He was thrown into action quicker than we ever anticipated, but you know, he did a good job. Obviously, what he brought to Josh, I think Josh will be able to take some of these things with him throughout his career. As I told you, I regretted that it took me that long to get it done. I was glad when we got it done and very thankful for his time here. He was here as much as any player. Once he was here, he was all in and was really a great resource for Josh, Matt Barkley and for (offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll."
Anderson's decision to retire undoubtedly is good news for Tyree Jackson, the University at Buffalo quarterback who was officially announced Thursday as one of eight undrafted free agents signed by the Bills.
"We were monitoring the quarterbacks especially going into Saturday (of the draft)," Beane said. "We did do a little bit more work on quarterbacks, go back and watch some guys once we got this word, and made sure we had them stacked how we thought they should be. As it got late, you don't want to root for somebody not to be drafted, but at the same time we were thrilled with the opportunity to bring Tyree in here and let him compete, especially knowing that he may be starting as the No. 3 instead of the No. 4 if 'D.A .' does retire, which he now did."
Beane has said previously he would prefer to have three quarterbacks on the roster for training camp, which Anderson's retirement sets up for the Bills.
"Right now we're going to roll with these three," he said. "We'll see how Tyree adjusts and how he does – give him a chance to compete. We'll take it from there. In training camp, I don't think you need four quarterbacks. We don't have these two-a-days. There's just not enough throws for these guys.
"If you've got three healthy guys – especially a quarterback going into year two who needs all the reps he can get with all our guys – it's hard to really, truly give four guys a chance to compete, so my plan now is to let these three compete. But listen, we're always looking. If something we think makes better sense for us at any point, we would make that point, but we're excited that we got Tyree and we're excited to see him out here this weekend."