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Tyrod Taylor, Bills engaging in ongoing contract talks

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor only has 14 NFL starts under his belt, but could that be enough to warrant a long-term contract?

According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, there is "plenty of optimism" that the former backup signs a big deal before the start of the regular season, according to a source with knowledge of the ongoing contract negotiations. While contract talks are unique given Taylor's salary ($2 million, plus another million in playing time bonuses) and lack of time as a starter, the Bills view him as their unquestioned leader and would like to treat him as such. A possible deal could fall in line with the two-year extensionNick Foles received last summer from the Rams.

Taylor told Around The NFL back in January that he wants to be seen as the "long-term guy" in Buffalo, which could only happen with a deal that takes him beyond the voided year in 2017. Perhaps the Bills, having seen the effect the Jets' impasse with Ryan Fitzpatrick had on their offseason, are trying to nip any potential problems in the bud.

In a recent interview with The MMQB's Albert Breer, general manager Doug Whaley stopped short of applying the much-coveted franchise quarterback label to Taylor.

"All signs are pointing to him having a chance to be," Whaley said. "He's gotta prove it. .. Does he have things to improve on? Absolutely. But I think (2015) was a great first step."

The two sides are still wrestling with the idea of fair value in a league where Ryan Fitzpatrick is the only starting quarterback with an average annual salary between $7.5 million and $16 million.

"We wanna do something that's gonna be fair for him, but also fair for us," Whaley added. "We're definitely not opposed to that."

During his first season as an NFL starter, Taylor led the Bills to a 7-6 record, throwing for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He rushed for 568 yards with another four scores. Long-term health is a concern, though Taylor will inevitably get smarter about his rushing opportunities and the way he uses his body in the open field. Getting the ball to Sammy Watkins was also a worry, but in four of their final six games, Watkins had more than 10 targets and eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times.

Should Rex Ryan and his staff make it to next season, they know how difficult it will be to find something better. This is a team built to win between 8-10 games in 2016, which means they will not be in the running for a potential starting quarterback in next year's draft. Even if they were, finding someone to put up Taylor's numbers would be nearly impossible.

Signing a deal now is the fastest way to circumnavigate the lingering doubt. They want Taylor calling the signals for a few years to come.

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