If you’re a Buffalo Bills fan, you have to love the audacious, Bill Polian-like moves being made by coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. The “McBean” combo is swinging for the fences, but unlike predecessors Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan, they aren’t swinging wildly.
I expected the new Bills leaders to jettison quarterback Tyrod Taylor, but I didn’t believe they’d be able to finagle the third-round pick they were able to get from the Cleveland Browns.
And I was wondering what they might procure in exchange for oft-injured left tackle Cordy Glenn. That turned out to be a masterful move, too, convincing the Cincinnati Bengals to flip-flop first-round picks for a guy who has missed 15 games the past two seasons. Not only did the deal enable the Bills to move up nine spots to No. 12, but it also will allow them to erase Glenn’s onerous contract from the books in 2019.
With six picks in the first three rounds, including two first-rounders, Buffalo is in good position to make another bold move and climb even higher in order to grab the guy McDermott and Beane believe will be their quarterback of the future. Rumor has it during this rumor-mongering time of the year that the Bills love UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who is regarded as the most accurate and pro-ready quarterback coming out. To secure him, they will have to package their two first-rounders and more to get into position to draft him.
That might mean making a deal with the New York Giants, who own the second pick overall. We’ve all heard about how McDermott and Beane have a good relationship with Giants GM David Gettleman from the trio’s Carolina Panthers’ days. But, in the end, this is a business transaction, with each man’s decision impacting their long-term futures with their respective teams. So, friendships will be put aside, and as we get closer to draft day, expect the price for the Giants’ spot to become much more costly than just two first-rounders.
Of course, the Browns also remain in the market for a franchise quarterback, so the wheelings-and-dealings between the Lake Erie franchises, might not be done either.
The bottom line is that if McDermott and Beane fervently believe that one of these quarterbacks—Rosen, Sam Darnold, whomever—is the guy, then they have to do whatever it takes to get themselves in position to draft him.
This also means they’ll take a serious look at signing a veteran bridge quarterback, someone like Cincinnati’s A.J. McCarron, whom I believe could tide the Bills over while their future quarterback learns the ropes.
Though quarterback is priority No. 1, the Bills have numerous other holes to plug. They appear to have filled the run-stuffer need by signing former Panther defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a free agent contract. At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Lotulelei is the space-eater Buffalo lacked after trading Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. And more good news came the Bills way Tuesday when Kyle Williams, the heart-and-soul of the team, announced he would be returning for a 13th season.
Again, I’m liking what I’m seeing from the Bills new braintrust. They’re being bold, but in a calculated way.
The Taylor trade was best for him, the Bills and the Browns, who could go from zero wins in 2017 to five or six this season. Taylor gave it his all and went as far as he could go with Buffalo. He was a classy leader with a superb work ethic, but he was never going to be the kind of quarterback who was going to lead the Bills on a long playoff run, let alone win a Super Bowl.
He doesn’t turn it over, is a dangerous runner and throws a decent deep ball, but he wasn’t adept at going through his progressions and finding open receivers. And he never displayed the capacity to consistently lead his team from behind in the fourth quarter. Yes, he was hamstrung by his receiving corps, but there were just too many instances when guys were open and either he didn’t see them or was reluctant to pull the trigger.
On my all-time Bills quarterback rankings, I would rate Taylor fifth, trailing Jim Kelly, Joe Ferguson, Jack Kemp and Doug Flutie. He’ll always be remembered as the guy who was under center when Buffalo finally ended its 17-season playoff drought, but that was as much a function of what his teammates did and what Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton did, as it was of what Taylor did.
Anyone who has read me through the years realizes I’m not a fan of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Before he took over, the Orioles were baseball’s model franchise. But he managed to ruin things, even forcing the Rochester Red Wings to divorce themselves from what had once had been the best major-league/minor-league marriage in sports. The Wings had no choice, or Angelos would have killed baseball here, too.
But I have to doff my cap to him and the Orioles for launching a program that will enable kids to attend home games free of charge. Every adult who purchases a regularly priced upper deck ticket can bring up to two children, age 9 or under.
I’ve long advocated this type of program. So kudos to Angelos. I hope all major-league sports owners follow suit and offer free tickets to kids to every game.
Best-selling author and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.