PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Bills have agreed to a contract extension with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, capping a remarkable ascension from career backup to franchise quarterback in just more than a calendar year.
The extension ends months of speculation as to whether or not the team had seen enough in Taylor’s fourteen career starts — all in 2015 — to warrant a new deal before the 2016 season.
The Bills did not disclose contract terms. NFL Network reports it is a six-year extension worth $90 million before incentives, with a catch: The Bills have the option after the 2016 season to cut Taylor loose if they so choose. He will make roughly $10 million in 2016. If the Bills pick up his option after this upcoming season, he will make up to $28 million in 2017, when the extension would truly kick in.
“It’s a deal that can keep him with us for as long as he can keep performing at a high level and take us to where we need to go,” GM Doug Whaley said.
“Every year you have something to prove,” Taylor said, calling the deal a blessing. “This is a competition driven league, of course. It’s not like the NBA where everything is guaranteed, you can get cut at any given time. Anytime you step on that field you have something to prove and that’s been my mindset.”
Signed on a whim in March 2015, the Bills brought in Taylor to compete with Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel for the starting position, having previously started zero games in his four-year NFL career. Taylor’s extension now shifts him to a new title: Franchise quarterback. Since the days of Jim Kelly, many candidates have come through Buffalo, resulting in little success. Taylor now gets his chance to do better.
“Tyrod actually came here knowing he was going to compete and for us that’s one of the major characteristics you want in a franchise quarterback,” Whaley said. “A guy that has self-awareness and is aware of his skill set and is not afraid to compete because every day he gets on that field he’s trying to be the best he can be and also elevate people around him to make them the best.”
Taylor, 27, emerged as an efficient, mobile weapon for the Bills after previously serving as a backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore. In Taylor’s fourteen starts, the Bills finished 8-6. Buffalo lost both games in which Taylor did not play due to injury.
Among quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts, Taylor finished the season with the fewest interceptions, with just six. His total 2015 numbers (with accompanying NFL rank among QBs): 3,035 passing yards (23rd), 20 passing touchdowns (20th), 63.7 completion percentage (17th), 568 rushing yards (2nd), four rushing TDs (4th).
The Bills will expect Taylor to expand on his numbers going forward. The team could have waited to see more from Taylor before rewarding him with a contract extension, perhaps midway through the 2016 season. Instead, GM Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan decided they had seen enough over the course of one season to warrant a long-term investment.
Taylor is the first Bills starting quarterback to receive a significant contract extension since Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2011, who signed a six-year contract worth up to $60 million. Fitzpatrick played for the Bills through the 2012 season. The next June, Buffalo drafted Manuel in the first round, eyeing him as a potential franchise quarterback. Now, they turn to Taylor for that purpose.