Taylor has an $18.08 million cap number next season, the final year of the reduced deal he signed in March. His contract includes a $6 million roster bonus due by the third day of the 2018 league year, which begins in March.
If the Bills release Taylor before paying the bonus, he will count only $3 million against their cap next season. There is also the option of trading Taylor before the roster bonus is paid, which will require his new team to pay the bonus and guarantee $1 million of his $10 million base salary to secure his services over other potential suitors.
Taylor's inevitable departure will leave Nathan Peterman as the Bills' only quarterback under contract next season. One way or another, the Bills will have to add to their depth chart, and drafting another quarterback makes all the sense in the world.
The next seven games and any potential playoff games are going to begin to shape the Bills' evaluation of Peterman in live action. Some conclusions can be drawn from that sample size, but Peterman will remain a relative question mark by season's end.
If Peterman performs better than expected and shows promise, the worst move for the Bills would be to rest on their laurels and pass up a potential franchise quarterback in the draft next April.
While acquiring future draft assets is generally good business, the Bills opened themselves up to scrutiny when they traded the No. 10 overall pick in April to the Kansas City Chiefs, passing up on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, who was selected No. 12 by the Texans. The Bills found a potential steal at No. 27 -- the pick acquired in the Chiefs trade, along with a 2018 first-round selection -- in cornerback Tre'Davious White. But the Bills would have egg on their face if Mahomes or Watson ever become bona fide stars.
Likewise, the Bills would be the targets of criticism if they hitched their wagons too early to Peterman by declining to take a quarterback in the 2018 draft. That does not mean they should reach for a player or select one they do not feel fits their system, but with five selections through the first three rounds -- two in the first -- the Bills have multiple swings at the plate and the ability to maneuver around the board.
If Peterman becomes a long-term starter in the NFL, it would go against recent history of quarterbacks selected in the fifth round. Of the quarterbacks drafted since 2000, the 15 chosen in the fifth round who have started games have a combined record of 38-64. Only four have winning records: AJ McCarron (2-1), Dennis Dixon (2-1), Craig Krenzel (3-2) and T.J. Yates (4-3).
Obviously, anything is possible -- just ask Tom Brady. But the odds are against Peterman becoming the solution for the Bills.
That means the Bills should hedge their bets regardless of what happens over the remaining five games of this season. In the "worst-case" scenario that Peterman becomes great and the Bills have a first- or second-round quarterback taken in 2018 riding their bench for several seasons, it would only put the Bills in a position of strength. Look no further than the New England Patriots with Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Patriots, with both quarterbacks on their roster in their 30s and 40s after trading Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers last month for a second-round pick, could be in the market for a quarterback in the 2018 draft. At least a half-dozen other teams will be joining them, and the Bills should be in that group.