Josh Allen (QB)

Josh Allen To Start Week 2 For Bills

The Josh Allen era in Buffalo is officially underway. The rookie quarterback will get the nod under center for the Bills in Week 2 according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Twitter link).

Allen will replace Nathan Peterman in the starting lineup. Peterman earned the job due to a strong preseason, but fell flat on his face in Week 1 against the Ravens, mustering only 24 yards on 18 attempts. Allen came into the game in the third quarter and while he wasn’t great, he was clearly better than Peterman.

It’ll be a tough test for Allen’s first career start, as he’ll be facing a Chargers defense that has a ton of talent. Luckily for him, it appears that Joey Bosa is unlikely to play. Since the Bills faced a brutal slate of defenses to open the year, it was assumed by many that the plan was for Allen to sit the first few weeks, but they apparently felt they couldn’t wait any longer.

In what’s almost certain to be a rebuilding year for the Bills, this move makes sense. They can give Allen as much time as he needs to develops and ride the ups and downs with the rookie. The fanbase likely would’ve grown antsy and impatient quickly with Peterman’s struggles, so it’s natural they’d make the move ahead of the home opener.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nathan Peterman To Start Week 1 For Bills

After trading away A.J. McCarron to the Raiders, the Bills’ quarterback competition was down to two. Nathan Peterman has prevailed over Josh Allen for now, as the team announced Peterman will start Week 1 against the Ravens.

Peterman, a fifth round pick last year, struggled heavily in limited regular season action in 2017. But the Pittsburgh product was excellent this preseason, and performed well enough to stave off the start of the Allen-era, at least temporarily. While Allen will almost surely take over the job at some point, the team apparently decided he wasn’t ready. Allen’s preseason was a mixed bag, his potential was clear as ever, but he wasn’t always consistent.

The Bills’ schedule to start the season very likely has something to do with the decision to start Peterman. The first three weeks of the season, they play the Ravens, Chargers, and Vikings. That’s a tough slate of defenses for any quarterback to face, let alone a rookie making his first career starts, so it makes sense why they’d want Allen to avoid that.

The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Browns this spring, all but confirming they planned to take a quarterback in the first round of the 2018 draft. The team used significant draft capital to move up to number seven overall to select Allen, and even if Peterman plays reasonably well, it’s only a matter of time before Allen is under center in Buffalo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AJ McCarron Didn’t Fracture Collarbone

AJ McCarron‘s injury was not as serious as originally thought. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Bills quarterback did not suffer a fracture in his collarbone, as was reported following the team’s preseason game on Friday. While McCarron was expected to miss “several weeks,” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the quarterback is now day-to-day. McCarron is expected to return to practice once his shoulder pain subsides.

This is surely welcome news to the Bills, who inked the quarterback to a two-year, $8.1MM deal this offseason. However, the team has already decided to roll with first-rounder Josh Allen as their starter for this weekend’s game against the Bengals (Twitter link). The rookie quarterback has the most passing attempts through Buffalo’s first two games, completing 18 of his 32 passes for 176 yards and two scores. For comparison’s sake, McCarron has completed 10-of-16 for 128 yards and no touchdowns, while Nathan Peterman has gone 17-of-20 for 231 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

McCarron’s only relevant NFL work came as a replacement to an injured Andy Dalton during the 2015 campaign. The former Alabama star had been in the rumor mill through much of his tenure in Cincinnati, including a reported trade to the Browns that ultimately fell through. In 11 career games (three starts), the 27-year-old has completed 64.7-percent of his passes for 920 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also started the Bengals’ 2015 playoff loss to the Steelers, throwing a touchdown and a pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Notes: Quarterbacks, Williams, O’Leary

Running back Marcus Murphy continues to improve his chances of making the Bills’ 53-man roster. The 2015 seventh-round had a brief cameo with Buffalo last season, but he had showed some intriguing flashes during his tenure with the Saints. His talents have been on display during the preseason, as he’s compiled 74 yards and one touchdown in 11 carries (he’s also hauled in four catches).

“I just want to make a play,” Murphy told Branson Wright of Cleveland.com. “Whenever an opportunity is given, I just want to make the most of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being a running back, punt returner or kick returner. I just want to be a playmaker whenever I get the chance.”

“I appreciate the coaching staff giving me an opportunity. I want to show them that they can trust me to make a play and show that I’m able to execute whenever they need me to.”

Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News is ready to give Murphy a spot on the opening-day roster, and the writer cites the struggles of current number-three running back Travaris Cadet. Otherwise, Murphy would be competing with Taiwan Jones for a role behind LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Buffalo…

  • While Skurski is willing to hand Murphy a roster spot, he wonders if tight end Nick O’Leary is on the roster bubble. While the 25-year-old did finish last night’s preseason win over the Browns with a team-leading four catches for 70 yards and one touchdown, he didn’t end up taking the field until the second half. If the former sixth-rounder has any hopes of making the Bills, he’ll have to beat out Jason Croom, Logan Thomas and Khari Lee for backup reps behind Charles Clay. O’Leary finished last season with 22 receptions for 322 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games (five starts).
  • Quarterback A.J. McCarron suffered a hairline fracture in his collarbone during last night’s preseason game. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the signal-caller will end up missing “several weeks,” but a definitive timetable hasn’t been set. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Mike Rodak isn’t ready to hand the starting quarterback gig to first-rounder Josh Allen. The reporter notes (on Twitter) that head coach Sean McDermott has a high opinion of backup Nathan Peterman, and McCarron’s injury shouldn’t force the coach to “stray from his “calculated” plan about Allen.” Rodak believes the two healthy quarterbacks will split reps during next weekend’s game against the Bengals, although he also wonders if the team may end up adding another quarterback to the roster.
  • Defensive lineman Kyle Williams went down with a knee injury during last night’s game, but Rapoport tweets that the Pro Bowler’s ACL wasn’t injured. If the MRI confirms that prognosis, the 35-year-old “could return this season.” That still sounds like a rather grim outlook for the defensive tackle, but the MRI will likely provide specific details on the severity of the injury. The five-time Pro Bowler has spent his entire 12-year career with Buffalo, and he finished last season with 41 tackles and three sacks. If he is indeed forced to miss time, the Bills will likely turn to Harrison Phillips or Adolphus Washington for a bigger role.

Brandon Beane On Bills’ QB Decision

Second-year Bills GM Brandon’s Beane went through a lot to trade up and land Josh Allen, making two deals — with the Bengals and Buccaneers — to vault the Bills into that No. 7 spot.

When asked about his first-round quarterback’s chances of earning earlier-than-expected playing time, Beane said it could come down to how he looks in the Bills’ first preseason game.

I think you give everybody the fair amount of reps now. Right now we’re going with Nathan (Peterman) and A.J. (McCarron) with the majority of the ones and twos, but giving Josh at least a period a day – at least,” Beane said, via John Kryk of the Toronto Sun. “And we’ll do that through the first preseason game, and then we’ll adjust from there and decide, Are we going to keep it the same? Are we going to give him more reps? Or are we going to give him less? Everything is earned here.”

Buffalo snapped major North American sports’ longest playoff drought last season by booking the AFC’s No. 6 seed in dramatic fashion, and that progress may impact the team’s quarterback decision.

Although the Bills’ offense will look remarkably different, given that Tyrod Taylor and three key offensive linemen are out of the picture, last year’s work may prompt the GM and coaching staff to go with one of the veteran signal-callers while the Wyoming-produced prodigy observes to start the season.

Some people say, ‘Hey, don’t play a rookie at all.’ And some people say go ahead and play him no matter what,” Beane said. “And I think the thing is you’ve got to be fair to the other – when you get your 53-man roster – the other 52 players. Because everybody wants to win now, including Sean (McDermott) and I. And so (the players) see the same practice. They watch the same practices; they’ll watch the same preseason games. And if you’re not putting the best guy out there I think they’re going to lose their respect for you.”

Beane said he will be involved in the decision, along with McDermott and new OC Brian Daboll. Ownership will not steer the team one way or another in this matter, per Beane. Daboll last served as an NFL coordinator for the 2012 Chiefs, who went 2-14, but he served as national champion Alabama’s OC last season.

It will be a group decision,” Beane said. “There’s Sean and I. We’ll obviously talk. There’s Brian Daboll. He’ll be involved. He knows more than everybody who’s hitting everything. He’s in every meeting with these quarterbacks. It’s his offense.

… We’ll talk to (owners Terry and Kim Pegula) about the evaluation process. ‘Hey, this is what A.J. did well in Game 1 … this is what he’s got to improve on.’ Or, ‘This is what Josh did what, and what he’s got to improve on.’ And same with Nathan. So, yeah, we’ll definitely talk.”

Despite his five-interception disaster in Los Angeles last season, Peterman showed well in minicamp. McCarron would seemingly be the best bet for veteran stability, but Allen’s displayed improvement in training camp. Allen was viewed as a longer project than peers Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold coming into the draft.

(Allen) was behind, being in the draft, whereas both A.J. and Nate were already learning Brian Daboll’s system a month-plus before Josh got there,” Beane told Kryk regarding Allen’s summer progression. “But definitely, by the time we left there in June he was mentally there. Now it’s just catching him up physically, knowing all the plays – it’s a big playbook – and getting the guys lined up. But he has done a great job to this point.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Darnold, Patriots, Allen

Two rookies remain unsigned: Sam Darnold and Roquan Smith. The Jets are working on a deal with a quarterback they’ve been thrilled about throughout the offseason, one who was supposed to have a legitimate chance at a Week 1 starting job, but Darnold’s camp absence isn’t doing him any favors. Offset language was thought to be a sticking point here, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link) that isn’t the case (or isn’t any longer). Instead, the quarterback’s guarantees — and how and when they would void — represent why the former USC standout hasn’t signed. Void issues have also come up in the Bears’ discussions with Smith. CAA represents both Darnold and Smith. The Jets began their first practice this afternoon.

Here’s the latest from the AFC East:

  • A former AFC East quarterback was not planning to leave during what turned out to be his final offseason in the division. Jimmy Garoppolo was searching for Boston-area real estate last summer, Joon Lee of Bleacher Report notes. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe adds this should help put an end to speculation the Patriots were planning all along to unload their former backup quarterback. Volin writes Bill Belichick was indeed overruled about a plan to keep Garoppolo as the heir apparent — which would have induced complex math because of the current 49ers quarterback’s rookie contract expiring and Tom Brady not yet retired — before an 11th-hour trade to San Francisco.
  • Brady did not deny that he communicated with Josh McDaniels during the period after the Super Bowl when he backtracked on accepting the Colts’ HC job, the longtime Patriots quarterback said Saturday (via James Palmer of NFL.com, on Twitter). When asked if he spoke with his then-outgoing OC about potentially staying in New England instead, Brady said he “always” talks to McDaniels, who is now back for a seventh season in his second stint as Pats OC.
  • Julian Edelman addressed his suspension Saturday and said this second straight September off will allow him to get his knee fully ready to go. “It’s disappointing with the penalty and the findings,” Edelman said, via Doug Kyed of NESN.com. “And I’m definitely accountable for that. I have to follow the protocols a little better and make sure this never happens again.” Edelman contested the suspension but saw his appeal fail. The 10th-year slot receiver tore an ACL during the 2017 preseason but is expected to be ready to go upon his now-October debut date.
  • Josh Allen‘s been the best Bills quarterback in camp thus far, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW observes. The raw Wyoming-honed talent outshined A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman on Saturday, per Buscaglia. Both of the older QBs are believed to be competing for Buffalo’s Week 1 job, with Allen believed to be set to watch as his career begins.

Bills Sign Rookie QB Josh Allen

Josh Allen is officially in the fold. On Wednesday, Allen inked his four-year rookie contract with the Bills. 

Allen’s negotiations took a while, but a deal was expected to happen this week as there were no signs of acrimony between him and the club. In accordance with his slot, Allen will earn about $21.2MM over the course of his four-year rookie contract.

The Bills went into the draft hoping to land their quarterback of the future, but refused to part with both of their first-round picks in order to make that happen. Their position paid off, as they were able to land the Buccaneers’ No. 7 pick in exchange for their No. 12 choice plus two second-round selections.

It’s expected that Allen will learn from the bench this year – at least, to start the year – behind free agent pickup A.J. McCarron. While Allen’s arm strength is definitely NFL caliber, the belief is that he’ll need some seasoning before taking the reins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bills, Allen, Texans, Watson

The Bills began discussing the idea of taking a quarterback near the top of the 2018 draft all the way back in May 2017 when general manager Brandon Beane was hired, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

It’s a quarterback league; you’ve either got one or you don’t,” Beane said. “And we were getting to know Tyrod and Tyrod brought a lot of good things for us, but we decided as the season moved on that we were probably going to go in a different direction, and at the same time we were still thinking, ‘OK, if Tyrod is our guy we’ll draft other things, and if not, we’ll be ready to move forward.’ And that planning really started in August with some of the moves we made, and to add the draft capital that we did.”

When it came time for the draft, the Bills managed to move up for Allen by sending their No. 12 pick and two second-round picks to the Bucs for the No. 7 choice. After that, the Bills doubted that they would be able to land Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who was another one of their top targets. Luckily for them, the Raiders opted to bolster their offensive line with the No. 15 pick, giving them an opportunity to trade up for Baltimore’s pick at No. 16.

We had tried to trade with Oakland … and they were like, ‘No, we’re taking the pick,‘” Beane said. “So I called [Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome] and we agreed to the terms while Oakland was still on the clock and he said, ‘Let me know if your guy is still there.’ So until I heard them say it was Kolton Miller you had to assume that they were taking Tremaine. And if they had we would have stayed pat at 22.”

The Bills are happy with how things turned out in the first round, but it may take a while before we see how this draft class pans out, particularly when it comes to Allen.

Here’s more from the AFC:

Poll: Which Team Best Addressed QB Spot This Offseason?

This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.

A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?

Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.

Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.

Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.

The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.

Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.

Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.

It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.

So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Rookie QB WIll Log The Most Playing Time In 2018?

Six quarterbacks were taken in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft, including the Browns taking Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick.

Though teams spent high-value picks on quarterbacks in 2018, not every quarterback will be in a position to take over a starting role in 2018, though each seemingly has a decent possibility at finding the field in their rookie year. Along with the Browns selecting Mayfield, the Jets selected Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick, the Bills took Josh Allen with the No. 7 overall pick, the Cardinals took Josh Rosen with the No. 10 overall pick and the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson with the No. 32 overall pick. The Steelers also selected Mason Rudolph in the third round of the draft.

Each quarterback has a roadblock to finding playing time in 2018. The Browns acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor via trade, the Jets re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford and the Bills traded for A.J. McCarron. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger entrenched in the starting role, though he’s missed eight games over the last three seasons.

So, which quarterback do you think will receive the most playing time in 2018? Will injuries to Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco force Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph into action? Or can Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen or Allen win battles in crowded quarterback rooms?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!