Bills GM keeping options open in deciding QB Taylor's future

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, left, is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson, center, and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane is keeping his options open and intends to take his time determining whether quarterback Tyrod Taylor will return for a fourth season.

"We're going to make the best decision. I'm literally going to go back and watch how he played at the beginning of the year, how he played in the middle of the year and how he played in the end. We'll see," Beane said Tuesday after he and coach Sean McDermott held an end-of-season news conference.

"We're going to take our time and make an informed decision," Beane added. "The easy thing to do is go off the last game. And that's not fair."

He was referring to Taylor overseeing a pedestrian offensive attack Sunday in a 10-3 loss at Jacksonville in an AFC wild-card playoff. Taylor went 17 of 37 for 134 yards and an interception before being forced out of the game after suffering a concussion on Buffalo's final possession.

His production against Jacksonville reflected an inconsistent season for the third-year starter, who has a 23-21 record in Buffalo.

The low point came when Taylor was benched in favor of rookie fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman in a 54-24 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19. McDermott called the decision a "calculated risk," which quickly backfired when Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half, leaving the Bills no choice but to return to Taylor.

Beane said Taylor doesn't deserve all the blame for an offense that finished 29th in the NFL in yards gained, and scored just eight touchdowns over the final seven games, including the postseason.

But make no mistake, the first-year general manager said, it's incumbent on him to get the Bills a franchise quarterback.

"I said that back when I got here," Beane said. "It's a quarterback league. Where you get it, I really don't care. If you give me one, whether he's on the street now, whether he's a free agent, whether I draft him, I'll take him anywhere."

That leaves Taylor's future in question despite him being Buffalo's first quarterback since Rob Johnson in 2000 to start a Bills playoff game.

The Bills were ready to move on from Taylor in March before he agreed to restructure his contact by reducing it from a five-year to two-year term.

Beane said Buffalo has enough assets — two picks in each of the first two rounds of the draft — to move up and address any position of need, including quarterback.

On the other hand, he said, the Bills could comfortably afford retaining Taylor for the final year of his contract, which includes a $6 million bonus in mid-March and the $18 million hit his deal would count against the salary cap.

Whatever euphoria remained from the Bills exceeding expectations by finishing 9-7 and ending a 17-season playoff drought gave way Tuesday to the challenges Beane and McDermott face in continuing a rebuilding process that began a year ago.

"I thought we (grew) faster than I thought," Beane said. "But we have a long way to go, we really do."

McDermott deflected questions on whether he'll consider changes to his coaching staff, particularly offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. "This is early in the process right now, and I'm not going to get into speculation," he said.

Beane seemed open to re-signing defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The 12-year veteran completed the final year of his contract and hasn't determined whether he'll retire. Beane said he had a good conversation with Williams on Monday but wants to give him time to think before opening contract talks.

"Who doesn't love Kyle Williams?" Beane said, referring to the team's most respected leader. "We'd definitely love to have Kyle back."

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