Here is what the first major domino of the Bills' offseason means for the team:
Grade C: I'll give this an average grade because I believe the Bills are opting for an average quarterback. While the terms of Taylor's restructured contract were not immediately available when the team announced his return Wednesday, it is unlikely that he took a significant pay cut (or any) in order to remain with a team that showed little faith in benching him late last season. Taylor would have other suitors on the free-agent market -- likely the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets -- so Taylor surely had financial incentive to remain in Buffalo. The Bills will keep their fans happy and in their seats at New Era Field by keeping their starting quarterback, but there are legitimate questions about whether Taylor can get the team to where they want to be. This is a safe decision by a team that did not want to shake things up too much.
What it means: The Bills are maintaining the status quo instead of embarking on a rebuild that would have likely included drafting a quarterback in the first or second rounds next month. That means the Bills, who went 7-9 last season, believe they have enough pieces in place to make the playoffs in 2017. But as the past two seasons have shown, that might not be enough. Taylor has limitations as a passer -- his numbers were below average on third downs and pitiful in late-game situations -- and the impact of his athleticism in winning games has been debatable. The Bills' front office seemed to share those concerns in not committing to Taylor after this past season, but it is clear new coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison feel strongly enough about Taylor for him to stay.
What’s the risk: The pressure is back on the Bills to win this season. Fans will be disappointed if the team's offensive core of Taylor, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Sammy Watkins cannot propel the Bills into the playoffs after 17 years out of the postseason. By keeping Taylor, the Bills have fewer financial resources to find players on defense that will help improve that unit from a 19th-ranked finish last season. Had the Bills opted to release Taylor and instead attempted to develop a young quarterback, McDermott and general manager Doug Whaley would have gotten more slack to fix the team over the long term. Now? The Bills are making a run at it, and fan expectations will again be high.