Ken here: I'm going to be up front and state that this is a pure speculation/thought piece. I have heard absolutely NO rumors from "people in the know around the league" or any other vague reference that apparently counts as a source in modern day journalism. I provide the speculation, the actual facts & tables included are by Josh Sunderbruch based upon Pro Football Reference.
When the Bills announced early this week that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was going to be benched this week, but not for performance issues, it got me thinking about whether the electric quarterback out of Virginia Tech might possibly be available to the Chicago Bears via a trade that would not break the draft-pick bank.
The whole "benching" of Taylor has been odd, and it occurred shortly after Bills coach Rex Ryan was fired. There was speculation that the benching was not for performance issues, but rather because Taylor has a clause in his contract that guarantees money if he is injured... and benching him limits the chance of a "football injury" occurring to him this season (thereby bypassing the clause). Note: As a fellow WCG contributor stated to me that, if true, "no one should label the McCaskey's cheap when there is an owner that is literally benching a player to avoid the possibility that his full-guarantee kicks in."
Taylor signed a huge contract in the off-season, but also a strange one that put all of the guaranteed money into year one (except in the case of injury). Here's a link with some details of the deal:
Patra: Tyrod Taylor signs six-year, $92M Bills extension - NFL.com - The Bills are confident they've found their quarterback of the future. Buffalo rewarded Tyrod Taylor with a six-year contract extension on Friday.
News later in the week pointed towards Taylor already having sustained an injury that may require surgery:
Maiorana: Bills' plot thickens, Tyrod Taylor may need groin surgery - Democrat & Chronicle - If Taylor can't pass a physical in March, the Bills are on the hook for $27.5 million.
Knoblach: Bills QB Tyrod Taylor might need core muscle surgery - NFL.com - Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is set to visit Dr. William Myers in Philadelphia to determine if he potentially needs to undergo core muscle surgery, Ian Rapoport reports.
At this point in time, we don't really know what's going on.,. and as you can see in my article about the NFL Calendar Taylor could not be traded or released by the Bills before then. The NFL trade deadline covers not only the season but until the end of the current player contracts (March 9, 2017)
Even the "soft" indications of where Taylor stands are ambiguous. Here's a tweet the Bills put out as a promo for the upcoming Jets game. It features a minute of season highlights, yet the quarterback who started 15 games for the team is blatantly nowhere to be seen:
Let's finish strong on Sunday. #BUFvsNYJ #GoBills pic.twitter.com/Bm8hoJtHNY— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 30, 2016
Let's assume for now that Buffalo is no longer expecting Taylor to be a part of their long-term plans, and they are willing to make him available via a trade with Chicago. We don't know that this is true, but let's assume it is.
Do we want Taylor? Is he an improvement over what we had this year? Does his contract work for us?
Let's take a look, via Josh's stats, at how Taylor performed this season using passer rating (PR) as a metric. Yes, we realize it's not perfect (or even that good), but it at least allows us to quantify performance in some way. The *'s denotes when Taylor out-performed the average rating that the team allowed.
|Team||Average PR Allowed||Taylor Game 1||Taylor Game 2|
As you can see from the chart, Taylor out-performed his opponents average PR allowed 10 times in 15 games. How does this compare to the various quarterbacks that Chicago has run out there this year?
|Team||Bears QB||Average PR Allowed|
The Bears quarterbacks, combined in the 15 games we have played, have exceeded our opponents average PR allowed score only 5 times this season. I do need to throw in a bit of a caveat when it comes to Barkley, he had two games where the drop rates were horrific, and his PR would have been higher if he had just a "normal" number of drops.
In the two common opponent games, Taylor significantly outplayed the Bears quarterbacks.
We all understand that PR is only one way to look at quarterback performance, but even the most ardent opponent of using the PR to evaluate quarterback play might take pause when comparing Taylor's numbers to what the Chicago Bears have been fielding this season.
I've watched every game Taylor has played this year, and he's been both up and down. He's been All-World several times, and he's had a couple of "Grossman-ish" performances as well.
For those of you not familiar with Taylor, he has a huge arm and can make every professional throw with ease. He's a different kind of thrower, he's "reactionary" rather than an "anticipatory" quarterback. Taylor doesn't make the "chuck it up to where the receiver is going to be after he breaks" kind of throw, but rather he rifles the ball to people he sees open. He's not a true pocket passer, he's more of an on-the-move player. A strong runner with athleticism and speed, he is dangerous in the run-option, and can actually be a very effective wide receiver option in the wildcat if the running-back can throw.
Career wise, he's got 37 TD passes and 14 INT's, and he has a career 92.3 PR.
The Bills stepped up in the off season and signed Taylor to big money, and it's hard to gauge from the outside if they feel like they have gotten their money's worth.
It's even difficult to determine exactly how much of the blame for the failure and eventual firing of coach Rex Ryan falls on Taylor and the offense. Ryan is a loose cannon and an odd personality, and his brother's defense WAY under performed expectations. Still, the fact remains Taylor was the starting quarterback for a team that fired it's coach during the season, and that's not something any professional athlete wants on his resume.
It would probably take a high-round draft pick (or more) to pry the 27-year-old away from Buffalo, and it's really hard to tell what the Bills organization has in mind for him at this point in time. On the other hand, he is a proven mid-level NFL quarterback who still may have untapped upside with a fairly high floor. He's also still young.
What do you think, could Tyrod Taylor be a long-term solution for the Chicago Bears?