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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Bills have a great deal with Tyrod Taylor, as the AFC East takes new shape

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The Bills make a big move to compete in the division.

1. The Buffalo Bills have signed QB Tyrod Taylor to a 6-year, $92 million contract restructure. Taylor originally signed a 3-year deal for $3.35 million prior to the 2015 season, and needed to play 50% of team snaps in 2015 or 2016 to void the third year.

This contract gives Taylor a pay raise for 2016 and then the Bills have the option to extend his contract in March for the final five years. This is to protect the Bills if Taylor falls flat on his face. Taylor will receive a $15.5 million bonus and have his 2017 salary ($12 million) and 2018 salary ($13 million) fully guaranteed if the Bills pick up his option, which is a total of $40.5 million.

So if Taylor plays well enough in 2016, he will have earned $50 million between 2016 and 2018. The Bills will then have him under contract for $42 million over the final three years of the deal.

This is honestly a great deal for both sides. Taylor gets immediate financial security and if he proves to be a league-average quarterback, it’s unlikely that the Bills will move on after this season. Taylor started 14 games last season with the 7th best passer rating in the league; if he can do that again, the Bills will have the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for over the past two decades. If he doesn’t, well, the Bills can walk away without any long term issues.

2. There’s also a very real chance that the AFC East will feature four entirely different starting quarterbacks in week 1 of 2017.

The Patriots will be starting Tom Brady instead of Jimmy Garoppolo, the Bills and Dolphins can both opt out of their contracts with Taylor and Ryan Tannehill, respectively, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a free agent for the Jets after 2016 and New York drafted Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round to be the future of the team.

Good quarterbacks are imperative for any sort of franchise stability and 2016 marks an interesting time for the AFC East, as the Patriots three rivals have to make the decision whether or not their starters are worth keeping. If not, the teams will all be rebooting and the Patriots will remain on top.

3. The Browns are the only team in the NFL to draft more quarterbacks (5) in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft than the Patriots (4), Dolphins (4), and Jets (3) over the past decade. The Jets are tied with four other teams, but they also selected Bryce Petty with one of the first picks in the 4th round of the 2015 draft.

The Bills have only made two such picks: Trent Edwards and E.J. Manuel.

It’s a clear display of different goals. The Patriots always wanted a back-up in case Tom Brady started to decline, the Dolphins needed a starter until they found Tannehill, and the Jets have gone to the well almost annually since moving on from Mark Sanchez.

The Bills have been floundering with retreads and free agent signings. Taylor could change that.

4. Garoppolo will get to square off against Tannehill and Taylor and we’ll get a good look at a major what-if of the AFC East. What if Brady went off into the sunset and Garoppolo became the Patriots franchise quarterback? Tannehill (28 years old), Taylor (27), and Garoppolo (24) could have battled for the next decade.

Instead, Garoppolo will likely go to some place like the 49ers with Chip Kelly (I think that’d be an incredible fit), Taylor will be fighting for the Bills to pick up his option, and Tannehill will have to prove that he can succeed in Adam Gase’s new offense.

Oh, and the Jets will be there in some capacity, even if Hackenberg has been “brutally bad.”

5. We got our first look at Jacoby Brissett on Thursday and I’m curious how people thought he performed. He went 7 of 13 for 68 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He had three passes bounce off the hands of defenders and he was throwing passes high to his receivers.

On the other hand, he had a tremendous connection with tight end A.J. Derby.

I’m not expecting the reincarnation of Brady in Brissett’s first outing, but he showed accuracy issues in college, so it is certainly something to monitor. I’m excited to see if the Patriots allow him to play the entire fourth preseason game.