Combine Debrief, Day 1: Translating QB chatter

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Wednesday's press conferencepalooza at the NFL Scouting Combine was most notable for what wasn't said.

Bills coach Sean McDermott was as noncommittal as possible about Tyrod Taylor's future. Broncos executive John Elway and Texans coach Bill O'Brien both expressed flexibility about seeking a veteran quarterback without daring to utter Tony Romo's name. The Buccaneers stayed on message as it relates to Doug Martin's future, with both GM Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter saying they don't have to make a decision yet on the running back while also making it clear they aren't counting on him. These pre-free agency press conferences have evolved into a public game of "chicken."

McDermott hit the podium just 10 days away from a franchise-altering deadline regarding the massive option in Taylor's contract. NFL teams plan out every last minute of their OTA practice schedule months in advance, yet McDermott said he doesn't know what they'll do with Taylor. McDermott said the word "process" so often that it felt like a Philadelphia 76ers press conference, circa 2015.

"We're going through that process right now and the thing about all of our players, and Tyrod's no different, is we're going to go through the process, we're going to exhaust every ounce of time, look at it from every angle," McDermott said. "I think the thing you'll find out about me is I'm pretty methodical in my approach. And so it takes time and that's what's in front of us right now."

Translation: There might not be anyone out there better than Tyrod, so we might roll with him after all. But we still don't see him as a true franchise quarterback or this answer would be a lot more definitive.

I asked McDermott if he's compared Taylor with available free-agent quarterbacks.

"The process you look at is you look at it from all different angles and so you compare Tyrod based on the quarterback position, the intangibles we look for, the critical factors at the position and then, yes, you look at it from other areas as well and that being the candidates that are out there in the free-agent market."

Translation: We're still hoping to do better, but optimism is flagging.

There are up to eight teams that could potentially take a spin on the quarterback carousel this offseason. There aren't that many quality options available. The Bills won't yet rule out making a surprise run at someone like Tony Romo, but standing pat with Taylor is likely the best they can do.

Here's how we'd interpret some other key statements from Wednesday's media availabilities:

1) "We've got two young ones that we're happy with, that we think can be very good football players in this league."
-- John Elway on quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

Translation: If Tony Romo were to come to Denver, it would have to be on the Broncos' terms. Denver doesn't need a new quarterback. Coach Vance Joseph said the team was "fine there with those two kids" and it's credible.

Elway also said he was open to any options, but expressed concern that adding a veteran would "stunt the growth" of his young players.

2) "We don't have to make that decision right now."
-- Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht on running back Doug Martin.

Translation: Martin's suspension might be the only thing keeping him on the roster.

Addressing their running back position is a "high priority" and an open question, Koetter admitted. Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL's PED policy and finished last year in a rehab facility.

Don't be surprised if the Buccaneers get aggressive in free agency to replace him, possibly with Adrian Peterson. They also could look to do so in the draft, with Eagles GM Howie Roseman describing the talent at running back in this year's class as potentially "historic."

3) "The phones in our office work. ... If somebody wants to call and talk to us, call and talk to us. But they're going to find out that we value AJ McCarron quite a bit."
-- Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin.

Translation: We aren't giving McCarron away. Combine Tobin's statements with the ESPN report Wednesday that New England isn't expected to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, and it appears teams like the Patriots and Bengals are trying their best to create leverage and raise a potential price tag in a trade.

4) "I know what you're really asking."
-- Browns VP Sashi Brown, on whether he would give up the No. 12 overall pick for "the right" veteran quarterback.

Translation: Sashi Brown is smarter than a gaggle of reporters trying to trick him into talking openly about his lust for Garoppolo.

Brown said he expected Robert Griffin III to still be on the roster in April and that Griffin's upcoming roster bonus won't be a big determining factor in whether he stays on the team. It would be a surprise if Griffin made another Week 1 start in Cleveland, but Brown's comments illustrate how uncertain this quarterback market remains. Brown admitted there is "urgency" to find a quarterback this season and said the team has already ranked the top three quarterbacks in this class. Going the rookie route looks more likely for the Browns by the day.

5) "We'd like to have Terrelle back and that's a priority for us. That said, we're not going to panic if he's not back."
-- Sashi Brown on receiver Terrelle Pryor, who did not receive the franchise tag Wednesday.

Translation: There's a better chance of RGIII being on the Browns' roster in April than Pryor, which is both surprising and a little depressing.

6) "There's no better time to take a young quarterback than when you have a guy like Carson, who can help develop him."
-- Cardinals GM Steve Keim on drafting a potential quarterback of the future this year.

Translation: Carson Palmer's retirement flirtation scared us straight. It's time to draft a quarterback.

7) "I see Blake as our quarterback."
-- Jaguars coach Doug Marrone on Blake Bortles.

Translation: He actually means it! Marrone and the entire organization have doubled down on Bortles all offseason. Marrone made it clear there isn't a scenario in which Bortles will face competition for the starting job. It's a risky belief that might have sold the Jaguars on giving Marrone the job. The organization risks following Bortles off a cliff in unison.

8) "The what-if game is real, and if you are prepared to go down that road, there are a lot of layers to it."
-- Falcons coach Dan Quinn on re-watching Super Bowl LI many times.

Translation: Losing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl really, really hurts. If nothing else, Quinn's relentless positivity and energy make him well-suited to carry the Falcons past the pain.

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