Tyrod Taylor's Extension With the Buffalo Bills Is a Win for Both Sides
Now, he can mop up that sweat with some fat stacks.
#Bills extension for QB Tyrod Taylor puts him under contract for 6 total years and is worth roughly $90M base, source said, plus incentives
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 12, 2016
That's not "project" quarterback money; that's the haul of a guy you expect to thrive in the future, and the Bills are putting their faith in Taylor. Still, they didn't do so without leaving themselves a bit of wiggle room.
My understanding of Tyrod Taylor's deal is its complex. So, 2016 is fully guaranteed, but after that there is a lot of prove-it in the deal.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 12, 2016
So the Bills lock down their starting quarterback for potentially the next six years while also keeping things flexible. Not too bad for a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since the turn of the millennium.
Now, this deal seems pretty solid on its surface. But when you dig a bit deeper into Taylor's performance last year and the market for quarterbacks, the Bills come out smelling like roses.
We can quantify Taylor's 2015 campaign by looking at numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), the metric we use to track the efficiency of both teams and individual players.
Here's how NEP works. Prior to each play, there's a certain number of points the offense is expected to score on its current drive. If they complete a three-yard pass on 3rd and 2, that'll increase the expected points for the drive and give them positive NEP. If that same three-yard completion comes on 3rd and 4, though, it'll likely result in a punt, giving them negative NEP. Tracking these fluctuations over the course of a season can tell us which offenses and players operated in the most efficient manner.
NEP smiles brightly upon Taylor. He finished his first season at the helm ranked 10th in Passing NEP per drop back of 46 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. This put him right between Matt Ryan -- whose 2013 contact extension will net him an average annual salary of over $20 million, according to Spotrac -- and Eli Manning, who's getting roughly $21 million a year. Taylor's sitting around $15 million per year. That's not bad.
This is all before we consider the value Taylor adds with his legs. His Rushing NEP on 88 attempts was 31.54 last year, the third most points added by any quarterback behind Cam Newton and Alex Smith. When we add this onto his Passing NEP, Taylor's Total NEP was 103.04, the 11th most on the year. That's a cumulative stat, meaning it doesn't take into account the two games Taylor missed due to injury. All in all, it was a tremendous debut season as a starter.
Can Taylor Duplicate His 2015 Performance?
It would be fair to criticize the Bills for investing in Taylor on such a small sample. After all, we've seen quarterbacks flop after one dazzling season (waddup, Robert Griffin III?), and this was only 418 drop backs for Taylor. Can that possibly justify plopping over $90 million in his bank account?
Based on Taylor's effectiveness, the answer should probably be yes. By finishing in the top 10 in Passing NEP per drop back last year, Taylor has already done so more times in his career than the aforementioned Alex Smith and Taylor's former teammate, Joe Flacco. Neither have ever finished that high, and both will make much more than Taylor will this year.
How about the Philadelphia Eagles' Sam Bradford, who signed a two-year, $35 million deal in the offseason? He has had five seasons with at least 200 drop backs, and he is yet to finish in the top 15 in Passing NEP per drop back in any of them.
If you're comparing Taylor's deal to that of any other NFL quarterback no longer on his rookie contract, it looks like a steal. And that's before we factor in how truly good he was last year. The Bills did the right thing in extending him now, even if it does expose them to a bit of risk.
This deal is clearly a positive for both sides. There's the possibility that Taylor could end up falling short of last year's performance, making it a solid move for him to strike while the iron is hot. However, what we've seen so far is that this guy is a solid quarterback in the NFL. If he can even merely stay at that level of production, the Bills will have locked him up for well below market value. It's hard not to be happy about this deal no matter from which perspective you view it.