The Buffalo Bills head into the impending free agency period with a reported $38 million to spend. However, in my estimation, at least one report has them considering spending their money in a somewhat less than desirable fashion.
According to Pro Football Weekly, the Bills are said to be looking at the quarterback position. Now, this is no surprise, especially considering the Bills did nothing to address the position in the 2011 draft. Nor is this necessarily a bad decision, as there is nothing to speak of on the roster to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick. Were Fitzpatrick to be injured for any duration of time, it could look like shades of 1968 for the Bills, who went through five progressively worse quarterbacks in that long ago season.
So it's not the Bills looking for a quarterback that has me less than thrilled. It's not even the fact that they are reportedly looking for an athletic quarterback. In today's game, the pure drop-back passer borders on the extinct, as defenses have come up with continuously more esoteric methods to confuse quarterbacks, forcing them to spend more time scanning the field looking for an opening, while at the same time giving defenses a greater opportunity to get to the quarterback. So I get the need for athleticism at the position. I even support it.
However, I not only don't support two of the players the Bills are rumored to be considering, I am totally against them. I am so against them that if Nix goes with either of them, I am going to begin to wonder if he is indeed the right man for the job of rebuilding the Bills.
Let's take a look at what is rumored to be in the Bills' future.
The first name mentioned is one I would like and support. That would be Miami's Tyler Thigpen. Some of you may wonder why I'd be happy with such an unspectacular choice by the Bills. I have four reasons, actually.
One is that it could be considered as weakening a division rival. While I realize Thigpen is a backup, I also understand injuries cut both ways. What does Miami do if Henne goes down? Thigpen would be the most proven guy they have to go with. Beyond him, they have nothing to speak of. So, it improves our depth while stripping away theirs.
Another is that Chan Gailey has worked with Thigpen before. Recall when Thigpen did some good things for a fairly pedestrian Kansas City team—Gailey was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs at the time. Thigpen would come in with a coach who already knows his strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to best put him in position to do well from a schematic standpoint. That would be a huge advantage for the Bills.
There is also the fact that Thigpen, unlike the other two players named (wait for it), is in no way, shape or form a prima donna; he doesn't give in to bad judgments or have a me-first attitude. In any scenario, I would always take the "team" player over the "me" player, especially at the quarterback position.
Finally, Thigpen would not be as costly as at least one of the other two players mentioned. He would likely come in with a fair market value, and would not be a detriment should the Bills select a quarterback of the future in the 2012 draft. Indeed, much as I believe Fitzpatrick would, Thigpen would probably be a good and willing mentor to a rookie quarterback learning the ropes of the NFL.
The second name mentioned will probably come as no surprise to many Bills fans. Vince Young, who is either going to be traded or outright cut by the Tennessee Titans, is a player who is known to be headed for a new team. But I sure don't want that team to be Buffalo for various reasons.
At a position that requires the mental toughness of a gladiator, Young possesses the mental fortitude of a wet Kleenex. That is to say, he has none. He has proven to be too thin-skinned to survive being in the spotlight with all eyes on him. Criticism breaks him far too easily, and he has followed failure with more failure on multiple occasions due to these flaws.
Money would be another issue. Yes, I realize the Bills have money to spend, but that doesn't mean they should throw it away on poor choices. If he is traded by Tennessee, the Bills would be on the hook for whatever is left of his rookie contract. According to figures from ESPN, at the time of his signing, Young, the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, has a final year left on his contract. However, the contract gave Young six years guaranteed at a total of $25.74 million.
This makes it hard to say what the exact price would be in a trade scenario, but it would only make sense that the final year would pay the most of the six. Additionally, the contract provides for a $4.5 million bonus should Young play in 45 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Add to this whatever the Bills would have to give back to the Titans for Young's services, and the deal becomes cost-prohibitive in my mind.
Of course, the Titans could just cut Young loose, making him essentially a free agent, and the Bills could negotiate whatever deal they want for him. But, given the commitment the team made to Fitzpatrick this offseason, do you really want a guy, coming in looking over his shoulder, who is used to starting and may well expect to do so in Buffalo?
Too much potential for a quarterback controversy that could divide the locker room there for me, and I don't view the Bills as a strong enough team internally to survive such a rift. No matter what the Bills might sign him for, to me, the potential cost is just too high. To take a guy who was in an ideal situation in Tennessee and essentially blew it up himself, isn't prudent personnel management.
Yes, I know he has a winning record as a starter, but even so, the negatives outweigh that far too much for my liking. Combine that with the fact that in either case, the final cost is likely to be significantly more than we are accustomed to seeing the Bills spend in free agency, and it just does not present a positive scenario. However, that isn't even the worst of it.
The worst of it is that the Bills are rumored to be considering ex-Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft. It is said that the team would only be interested if Pryor were available with a late pick. However, it is important to remember that whatever round pick a team takes Pryor with in the supplemental draft, is forfeited in the 2012 draft. So, if the Bills were to select Pryor with, say, a fifth-round pick in the supplemental draft, it would cost them their fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft.
I know, many of you will say, "So what? A fifth-round pick isn't that much to give up, and we could be getting the quarterback of the future."
I would like to remind everyone that the only quarterbacks ever taken in the supplemental draft who amounted to anything were Steve Young and Bernie Kosar. Further, in Young's case, it took a trade from Tampa to San Francisco for him to come to anything. Not exactly a proven method for finding a successful quarterback.
I still have additional problems with him. One is that Pryor is not a guy who I think much of. If selling his jerseys and other items for money while in Columbus, knowing it would adversely impact both his own eligibility and his team's, doesn't define a me-first guy, then I'm not sure what does. So it's fair to say he's selfish.
For better or worse, he took his head coach Jim Tressel down with him. True enough that Tressel knew what was going on and could have saved himself by blowing the whistle on Pryor. That's on him. But what about the fact that people around both Pryor and the Buckeyes have stated that Pryor, along with the others, were told to stop selling their items, because it would put the team in jeopardy with the NCAA?
Pryor clearly didn't care about anything or anyone other than himself, otherwise he would have stopped. That would've spoken volumes about him as a leader, just as his failure to do so does as well.
Then there is the question of his skills. Living in Big Ten country, I watched many of Ohio State's games during Pryor's tenure. He really isn't anything special. His accuracy was highly inconsistent, but his receivers were up to the task and made him look better than he is. Had he played with less athletic receivers, his numbers would give a more accurate reflection of his passing skill. He has never showed me great instincts, with his delivery being either too early or too late much of the time. He also didn't look to me as if he was overly skilled at reading defenses either, as he would put the ball in traffic when the defense was giving him something in another area of the field.
Additionally, I've seen too many comments by scouts or personnel men, both here on the Internet in places like ESPN.com, NFL.com, Sportingnews.com and CBSSports.com, as well as in print in Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated, that don't speak highly of Pryor either. Some have said they wouldn't even think about him until the fifth round, others the seventh. One said he'd "prefer to let someone else make that mistake." Another said he would "consider taking him in the sixth round, but someone is going to jump too soon and take him in the third round."
For the record, I am strongly convicted that the Bills should "let someone else make that mistake," as the one scout stated.
It seems as if Bills fans can count on seeing a new quarterback wearing our spanking new uniforms this summer. The million dollar question is, will it be the right one?