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Manuel’s Future in Buffalo Remains Unclear
Monday, March 21
The deadline for the team to pick up Manuel's fifth-year option is not until early May, per Rodak. He's due to count $2.8 million against the team's salary cap, per Spotrac.
Manuel’s career in Buffalo seemed to take a turn toward inevitably ending when he lost his starting job to Tyrod Taylor in training camp last year.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com speculated that to be a sign his days in Buffalo were numbered:
EJ Manuel being a healthy scratch behind Josh Johnson is amazing. Gotta think he’s off team next year.— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) November 13, 2015
However, head coach Rex Ryan indicated at Super Bowl 50 in February he’d like to keep Manuel in the fold.
“We’ll see,” Ryan said, per Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “I’m not done with EJ Manuel, either (as a backup to Taylor). I think EJ’s got the talent, the size and all that stuff. Sometimes, guys just take a little bit longer to develop, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Manuel finished the season 52-of-84 passing for 561 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions—never seeing the field beyond the two starts he filled in for Taylor.
The former first-round pick has never quite lived up to the lofty expectations since coming out of Florida State in 2013. That year, he was the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft with the 16th overall pick.
Whaley was the integral figure that selected Manuel with that pick with the hopes he’d develop into Buffalo's franchise quarterback.
But his only season earning significant playing time was in his rookie campaign in 2013, where he played in just 10 games. Once Ryan was brought on board last offseason, the head coach reopened the quarterback competition and left training camp with a convincing starter in Taylor.
If Manuel hopes to become a No. 1 quarterback eventually, his chances are best suited elsewhere. That the Bills are open to keeping him as a backup is somewhat of a surprise in itself.