Authoring the finest quarterback season in Buffalo since the end of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly's career two decades ago won't necessarily earn Tyrod Taylor a new contract as the face of the Bills franchise.
General manager Doug Whaley said Monday there is "some work to be done" in contract extension talks.
Taylor's agent is under the impression the Bills will not address the contract before the 2016 season, leading to a sense of frustration.
"It's the Bills' prerogative to do what they want to do as it relates to Tyrod Taylor or any other Bills player," agent Adisa Bakari said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. "Fortunately, there are 31 other teams that have watched and will be watching Tyrod. And the fact of the matter is what Tyrod was able to do as a first-time starter in 2015 was give the Bills the best quarterback play they've had since Jim Kelly.
"If that isn't enough to warrant an extension, I don't know what will be."
Bakari raises good points. Taylor not only beat out EJ Manuel and Matt Cassel to earn the starting job coming out of training camp, but also went on to lead a surprisingly explosive offense, ultimately landing in Honolulu for his first Pro Bowl appearance. He has the staunch support of teammates and has professed his love for Buffalo and the Bills organization.
It's evident, however, that the team's brass harbors doubts about Taylor's merits as a true franchise quarterback.
They have placed a higher priority this offseason on an extension for cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Whaley has acknowledged on more than one occasion that quarterback remains a possibility in the early rounds of next month's draft. He also noted late in the season that Taylor must improve to the point where he can put the team on his back late in games.
Going back to mid-October, one Bills source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport that Manuel had a chance to push for the starting job during Taylor's absence due to a sprained MCL. As a smaller quarterback with a high sack rate and a penchant for running, Taylor's durability will always be a question mark.
The Bills' front office is backed into a corner absent a second-tier quarterback market in the NFL. Has Taylor proven worthy of a contract worth $17 or $18 million annually, transitioning from a competitive advantage to a competitive disadvantage against the salary cap?
If Taylor repeats his breakout season and exceeds expectations in 2016, the Bills know they can wield the franchise tag to keep the other 31 teams at bay. If he regresses this year, Whaley can rest comfortably with his decision not to throw mountains of guaranteed money at a one-year wonder.