by Mario Granata
Much has been made about the Buffalo Bills and their willingness to give up two draft picks for Matt Cassel. It seems more unlikely when you factor in that the Minnesota Vikings were probably going to cut ties with Cassel once free agency hit March 10th. So, why would the Bills take a quarterback, an area of need, who has been better suited as a back up than a starter?
Reason 1: A Poor Free Agent Class
With the current crop of free agent quarterbacks on the free agent market, it’s not so much of a list of Who’s Who, but Who Cares. The list of available quarterbacks are perennial back up players, or picks that were failed franchise starters. When you take into account that the Bills couldn’t get a franchise player, even if they had a 1st round pick, you can see why they decided to go with Cassel.
Reason 2: Josh McCown
Due to the Cleveland Browns giving a 35-year-old a 3-year deal worth 14 million, over 6 of that being guaranteed, they have inevitably set the quarterback market for the 2015 offseason. A lot of the other quarterbacks are younger and will ‘believe’ that they are worth more than McCown who went 1-10 last season. Because the Bills were working out a deal to get LeSean McCoy, and how his contract, if he didn’t restructure, would eat up 30% of their salary cap, they went with Cassel.
Reason 3: Cassel has no Bonus
Matt Cassel has a one-year deal worth 4.75 million. So in essence they actually save money by taking Cassel over McCown and because it is only for one year, they have bought some insurance if EJ Manuel cannot run Greg Roman’s offense. A lot of things can happen during the season, and if the Bills want to cut ties with Cassel it won’t cost them. However, if the Browns want to release McCown, they will owe him over 6 million which will be spaced over the next two seasons. With the 2016 free agents for the Bills coming up, they don’t want to have any unwanted dead money against the cap.
Reason 4: EJ Manuel will be the Starter in 2015
A lot of people in the 716 want to bring in a player who will ‘challenge’ EJ Manuel, but that wasn’t the case when he was drafted 16th overall. The Bills brought in Kevin Kolb so that they could ease EJ into the role of franchise quarterback, but an injury forced Manuel into the fire quick and an injury forced him out even quicker. For the Bills to get a return on their former first round pick, they have to evaluate how he would be in a 16 game season, something that Doug Marrone shortchanged Buffalo fans on last season.
More important is that the Bills, following the 2015 season, have to decide if they are going to exercise the 5th year option on Manuel because he was a first round selection. This is make or break time for EJ, and the Bills want to know if he will indeed be the future or not, and he has proven that he can’t do that if he has to look over his shoulder every snap.
Reason 5: Cassel is an Emergency Plan B
Matt Cassel, besides the two years that he had will be on his 4th team when he comes to the Bills. When one takes into account his age, and his failed attempts at being the starter on two different teams, he will be lucky to have a job in the NFL at this point. It is well documented what the Bills want to do in 2015. Control the clock, limit turnovers, and play swarming defense. Greg Roman runs a pro-style offense, which is one that EJ Manuel ran at FSU, and if he can’t grasp handing the ball off 30 times a game, and only having 1 or 2 reads, then the Bills wouldn’t want him anyway. IF he fails miserably, than the Bills have options for 2016. Much better options this season.
It appears that the Buffalo Bills threw in the towel on the 2015 draft, after not having a first round pick, so they decided that they were going to gain the players that they needed through free agency. They have a formidable backup in Matt Cassel who could come in and win a couple of games if needed, and LeSean McCoy, a premier running back, one that they probably would have selected with the 50th overall pick. With the moves that they have made, they can now pour all their resources into getting one more top free agent to put in front of McCoy and Manuel to open some holes and keep EJ upright.
Anyone see Mike Iupati at Anchor Bar recently?
Check out the list of 2016 Buffalo Bills Free Agents