Aug 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detailed view of Buffalo Bills helmet during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Bills may be in the market for a new quarterback, and there are some already established options out there to pursue this offseason.
The Buffalo Bills answered one big question when they hired Sean McDermott as their new head coach, starting in the 2017 season. With that hire, a ton of the questions on the defensive side of the ball were determined.
It is likely that the team will switch to a 4-3 scheme rather than a 3-4 scheme like Rex Ryan ran in his time with the Bills — one that has been highly criticized for not working given the personnel he was working with.
Still, despite those defensive questions being answered, a lot of offensive questions remain. Among the biggest questions is the quarterback situation. Will the Bills continue their franchise with Tyrod Taylor under center? Or will they look to bring in another quarterback who can — possibly — work with the team better than Taylor has been able to?
If the Bills decide to part ways with Taylor, or even if they choose to keep him and want another option (whether that be above Taylor in the depth chart or below him) there are a few routes they could take.
There might be some options for quarterbacks in the draft, but many of those players can be huge gambles. Yes, most of them have skill sets we can observe well from college, and stats that are impressive. But transitioning to the NFL can be a difficult feat, as proven by failed quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel.
What’s less of a gamble for quarterbacks is getting an established player, and luckily for the Bills they will have a lot of options to pursue this offseason, whether it be in a trade or free agency.
Colin Kaepernick may not be on the forefront of most fans’ minds as a positive addition to any team given the antics he went through last season kneeling through the National Anthem — and being viewed as anti-patriotic because of it, whether a fair conclusion or not — but he is, in fact, a decent quarterback.
Kaepernick has plenty of experience despite being a young player, having led the San Fransisco 49ers to a Super Bowl earlier in his career. While he — as well as the 49ers — have taken several steps back since that visit to the big game, he still has the experience with him of what it took to get there, and the knowledge of what a winning environment in a professional locker room truly feels like.
Kaepernick is likely not happy with his current situation in San Fransisco. Despite being named the starting quarterback later on in the season, Kaep did not start the year as the main man under center. He will be looking for a location where he can come in and start right away, and if the Bills were to pay him the money he will be looking for, they likely would want to get use out of him as a starter.
Still, in his report, Rapoport did not rule out the idea of Kaepernick coming back to the 49ers and taking over their starting position, so who knows at this point what his plans are, and if he will even be available for the Bills to take.
Kaepernick finished this season with over 2000 passing yards, and a completion percentage of nearly 60 percent. His quarterback rating was 90.7, his highest since the 2013 season.
While his prime is likely behind him, there’s no doubt that he could come in as an upgrade to what the Bills’ offense is currently. Unfortunately, Kaepernick just may be a short term solution to a much larger quarterback problem if the Bills were to pursue him.
Chance the Bills can get him: 20-25%
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez (3) drops back to pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Sanchez was just one game away from making it to a Super Bowl not too long ago in his career. Ironically, his coach at the time was recently-fired Bills head coach Rex Ryan. That connection led to some speculation that Sanchez would go to the Bills two years ago. Here we are, two years later, speculating the same possibility, but under a new and completely different head coach.
Sanchez, who served as a backup for the Dallas Cowboys this past season, will undoubtedly be looking for a new job with an increased role. While it would be interesting for him to sign with the Bills, the team he once played against as a division rival, it may be a welcomed change if he can still play at a high level.
That is a big if, however, as Sanchez is quite a few years removed from his proven starter days. 2012 was the last season Sanchez even appeared in more than 10 games, and he has started a total of 2 games in the past two seasons, so what he can be as a starting quarterback is a bit of a mystery at this point.
It would be a risky move for the Bills, and Sanchez may not be the best fit, but if they can get him for cheap, the payoff has the potential to be quite large. Again, getting him for an affordable price is also a huge if, and the payoff being big at this point in his career may be even larger.
To put things into perspective, Sanchez was sacked about 10 times for every 100 snaps he has taken over the last few years. There’s definitely a lot to be proven if Sanchez is ever going to be accepted as a real starting quarterback again.
Sep 14, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Kirk Cousins has seemingly exploded onto the scene as one of the best starting quarterbacks in the NFL in the past two years, and for that reason, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Bills will even have a shot at going after him. The Washington Redskins are likely to franchise tag him or pay the money he wants, because he clearly fits well in their system and is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed for them.
Cousins has been bold about his financial wishes with the Redskins, and is looking for a large paycheck.
If, by chance, Cousins is somehow on the market, however, it would be foolish of the Bills to not go after him as their quarterback. Cousins is exciting to watch, and has boasted some great stats in the past two years. In 2015, Cousins led the league in completion percentage at 69.8, and didn’t dip that much this year falling to 67.0 with an increase in attempts.
Cousins averaged over 8 yards per pass attempt, and is clearly a viable option as a starting quarterback.
While Cousins seems like a lock to return to Washington, we shouldn’t be so fast to rule him out completely. NFL.com predicted that there’s a chance the Redskins organization will display enough confidence in Jay Gruden and his offense to assume it will work well with a quarterback change.
The huge downside to Cousins is because he’s been showing out for two straight years now, he’s going to be worth a lot of money, otherwise he’ll walk. While Cousins isn’t a perfect fit in Buffalo, he’s the type of player right now that is looking for success, and seems to be able to adjust accordingly.
It seems as if Jay Cutler has been rumored to be on his way to being released from the Chicago Bears every season for the last several seasons. The Bears and Cutler no longer seem like a great fit, and the days of them competing for a playoff spot with Cutler are long gone.
Cutler has been in the NFL for quite some time, having passed for over 32,000 yards in his career so far. Cutler has, however, in two different seasons in his career, been the league leader in interceptions, which is not a good look for a quarterback.
In his most recent season playing a majority of the games (2015) cutler had a completion percentage of 65 percent and threw for over 3,500 yards. His quarterback rating was above 90, but his record as a starter was just 6-9, a number the Bills want to be much better than moving forward.
With Cutler, the Bills would have essentially no idea what to expect. He’s aging and also coming off of a surgery, so it would seem smart to stay away from him, but as a last resort Cutler may be okay to bring on at the right price.
Tony Romo may seem like a crazy option in Buffalo, but he may be the most realistic big name that the Bills could go after this offseason. With the Dallas Cowboys streaking into the playoffs with Dak Prescott, Romo has been put on the back burner as a franchise quarterback, and there may be no return from that for him.
Bills fans may groan at the idea of Romo coming to the Bills, and rightfully so. Romo has regularly disappointed Cowboys fans over the years, always seeming to give up games in the clutch or spending portions of his season injured. With Bills fans being regularly disappointed by their men under center over the last decade, Romo projects to be just an extension of that.
This season with the Cowboys, Romo started the year injured, and rookie quarterback Prescott took advantage of his absence. Romo was polite about the team wanting to move forward with Prescott as the starter even with Romo back, but there’s no doubt that he would like to be the starter wherever he is playing. Romo, despite the continued struggles to follow through, has been a good quarterback for quite some time.
Despite that he has led to a lot of disappointment for Cowboys fans over the years, he has had some success. Since Romo has joined the Cowboys, they have won their division four times, which granted them the privilege of competing in the postseason.
While the ultimate fall of Romo as the team’s starter became official this year, Romo has been mostly absent for the last two years. The team’s leading passer last season was Matt Cassel thanks to injuries keeping Romo out of last year as well.
As with many of these mentioned quarterbacks, there is a huge risk profile to consider when thinking about signing these guys. Romo’s risk comes in a few directions. One — he has failed to really follow through on virtually anything for the Cowboys. Two — he is injury prone, and not getting any younger.
Signing Romo might be a bit of a discourse from the youthful vibe that seems to be coming into the Bills’ locker room. It’s probably a bad idea to sign Romo, but it may be a big option on the table for the team if they’re looking to immediately boost their offense.