What does the hiring of QBs coach David Lee mean for Tyrod Taylor?

David Richard | The Associated Press

The NFL may not even be a week into the offseason, but plenty of rumors have already began swirling as people around the NFL try and determine who the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback will be in 2017. Will it be Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, or another quarterback they decide to draft? A player that they could potentially pickup in free agency? Or last but definitely not least, a guy they can acquire in a trade, like New England Patriots Super Bowl winning quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whom they have been linked to for quite some time?

On Wednesday, the Browns announced that they hired former Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach David Lee to the same position. Why is that significant, you ask? While spending his last two years in Buffalo, Lee has been Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s position coach, a quarterback in whom the Browns have been interested throughout the season. With Lee coming to Cleveland, the dots have already begun connecting if Buffalo decides to cut Taylor loose. The coach was an advocate to keep Taylor starting behind center, but that quickly fell through when the Bills decided to fire head coach Rex Ryan, who also wanted Taylor to be the team’s starting quarterback. Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley and owner Terrence Pegula were on the other side of the fence. They wanted either E.J. Manuel or rookie Cardale Jones to start behind center. This became apparent after Ryan’s firing prior to the final game of the season, when Jones got the start in the season finale, much to the approval of the owner and GM.

For what it’s worth, Taylor is due for quite a payday in the next month. If the Bills pick up his option by March 11, he’d be guaranteed $30.75 million through 2021.  If they don’t pick up the option and Taylor remains on the roster following March 11, he’d be guaranteed $27.5 million for 2017.  If the Bills cut him, they’d be on the hook for $3 million, but would save a bunch under the cap.

With that, all signs seem to point to Taylor being out in Buffalo. Whether he’s traded or cut loose and becoming a free agent, the Browns front office could decide that Taylor could be the future at quarterback in Cleveland. Now that they also hired Lee, the quarterbacks coach could quite possibly play a key role on if the Browns do in fact decide to acquire (or sign) Taylor at some point this offseason.

If he is released, the Browns, who have virtually more cap space than they can handle, could sign the quarterback without having to trade away one of their top draft picks in the upcoming draft, unlike what they would have to do in order to acquire Garoppolo. Is that enticing enough to take Taylor over Jimmy G?

In 2016, Taylor threw for 3,023 yards in 15 games and 17 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions and two lost just fumbles. He also rushed for team record 580 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Lee also helped Taylor have an interception percentage of just 1.5, which was fifth-best in the league. In 2015, he ran for 5.5 yards per carry, so that is an added weapon that head coach Hue Jackson and the offensive coaching staff can use. He had the second-highest passer rating in Billy history (99.4) in 2015 as well.

While the relationship between Lee and Taylor is unknown, with how well the gunslinger did with Lee as his position coach, you could assume that the two like one another. He helped Taylor become a Pro Bowler in 2015, the first Bills quarterback to earn that honor since 2002. You can say that the two years the two spent together in Buffalo weren’t bad, to say the least.

Jackson and Lee could become quite the tandem for whoever the next quarterback is behind center for the Browns. While the head coach is known for being able to develop quarterbacks, Lee has helped eight different quarterbacks surpass the 3,000 passing yards mark nine times.

Lee and Taylor are obviously familiar with one another, having worked the last two seasons together. Now, will the Browns pull the trigger on the dual-threat quarterback and former Virginia Tech Hokie if he becomes available?

  • JHop

    Give him a lucrative 2 year prove-it deal and draft a backup plan (Mahomes) in the second round. If Taylor succeeds, then you can sign him to a long term deal as he’s entering his age 29 season. If not, then you have an open QB competition between Mahomes and Kessler, if he’s still in town.

  • RGB

    Kessler? Taylor? Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky?
    I love silly season.

    Important silly season dates:

    February 6: Waiver system begins for 2017

    February 14: Starting at 12 noon ET, NFL clubs may begin to sign players whose 2016 CFL contracts have expired

    February 15: First day for teams to designate franchise or transition players

    February 28 – March 6: NFL scouting combine

    March 1: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET: Deadline for clubs to designate franchise or transition players

    March 7-9: Teams are permitted to contact and enter into negotiations with unrestricted free agents. However, a contract cannot be executed until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 9.

    March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, teams must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents.

    March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, teams must submit minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.

    March 9: Prior to 4:00 p.m. ET, all teams must be under the 2017 salary cap.

    March 9: All 2016 player contract will expire at 4:00 p.m. ET

    March 9: Trading period begins for 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET

    April 21: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

    April 27-29: 2017 NFL Draft

    July 15: At 4:00 p.m. ET, deadline for any team that designated a franchise player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2017 season and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

  • tigersbrowns2

    does anyone really think that any rookie QB we draft will start ?? .. i don’t. and i don’t have a problem with Taylor being a Brown , 1) if he really WANTS to be here and 2) they have to get rid of RGIII AFTER acquiring Taylor.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi JHOP … welcome to the board. i could live with that … i’m starting to like Mahomes more & more.

  • scripty

    This should be like a permanent page linked at the end of all NFL articles.

  • tigersbrowns2

    man , is RGB really into “silly season” , or what ?? … is March 7-9 for RESTRICTED or unrestricted FA’s ?? it’s next Tuesday February 14th that i’m looking forward to.

  • jpftribe

    How in the world could the Bills have thought that was a good contract structure? 15% above the highest paid QB in the league? Whaley has pictures.

  • jpftribe

    Any good QB’s in the CFL?

  • mgbode

    Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott say to never count out a rookie QB. Heck, two of those guys “lost” their QB competition and only got to start because of injuries.

  • mgbode

    it was a way of guaranteeing that Taylor would either be renewed long-term by the Bills or cut loose. it is similar to the McNair contract years ago that had a $50m bonus if the contract was not extended by a specific date.

  • Natedawg86

    Get rid of RGIII today not tomorrow, not the next day. NOW

  • tigersbrowns2

    … never mind , it will be March 9th (not Feb. 14th) that I’ll be looking forward to.

  • scripty

    A few teams have followed this structure. CIN gave Dalton a decent amt but had an escape after 2 years, and SF did with Kaepernick (and now I think he’ll be cut). Gives the player some reason to sign but leaves the team an out if the player craps out.

    This is exactly the structure deal CLE should do if they trade for Jimmy G.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi JPF … good question … i have no idea , though i would doubt it. it gives me something to check.

  • scripty

    Johny Football
    (stifles laughter)

  • tigersbrowns2

    it could happen , but do you think a rookie really has a chance if we already have RGIII & Kessler or Taylor & Kessler on the team ?? we wouldn’t have to rush a rookie into duty unless he is truly spectacular.

  • jpftribe

    Well, it worked!

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and who did Flacco & Wilson have to beat out ?? Boller & Flynn ??

  • mgbode

    Flacco had to beat out Troy Smith. He didn’t. It took Smith having an injury to allow Flacco the opportunity.

    Wilson is the lone person on the list that beat someone out. He out-performed $10m/year Matt Flynn in preseason and Carroll was wise enough to give the rookie the start. Many were calling to bench Wilson after some early September struggles.

  • mgbode

    RG3??? Yeah, I think a rookie could beat him out. Taylor & Kessler would be tougher but if a guy is truly going to be a franchise guy, then sure it’s possible. Or, they could get hurt and give him the opportunity, which he never gives up. We started 6 QBs last year.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … i’d put Flynn’s signing right up there with Osweiler’s.

  • jpftribe

    The options on Kaep and Dalton are like 13-14M /year, not $27M.

  • mgbode

    Sure. But, it still takes cajones to bench the guy you told your fanbase you were signing to start. Especially for a 3rd round pick that had initial struggles.

  • scripty

    Hey I’m not capologist, just mentioning the thought process. If the QB deserves it, a team will be glad to pay the money.

  • mgbode

    $30m through 2021 if they opt-in. $27m for 2017 alone if they don’t (thus forcing them to cut him).

    The reason is to spread the initial signing bonus out over a longer contract for cap purposes. The last years are bogus.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi NATE … so , you’d like to give RGIII one more shot at greatness here in Cleveland ??

  • jpftribe

    I stand corrected. The $15M signing bonus is the real kicker here.

  • jpftribe

    Eh, neither am I. It just seemed like a good opportunity to take shots at an NFL GM not named Sashi.

  • William Scott Eltzroth

    Great idea signing Tyrod Taylor because he plays well in pressure situations against the top teams. Saves a draft choice if the Bills cut him and we can get him. Let`s use our #1 pick on the best defensive player and use pick #12 for T.E. O.J. Howard who I believe can be our 2017 version of Ozzy Newsome in a season or two. Rest of picks for defense but 2 of the later picks for one O.L. and a small school R.B. that Hue coached with or against in the senior bowl. GO BROWNS….

  • mgbode

    as a barista! or is it baristus?

  • nj0

    My conclusion: Tyrod makes a whole lot of sense. Get it done, Crimson Encephalon Partnership!

  • H.Greene

    So your telling me the Browns hired a guy as Qb coach, for a specific Qb that may remain on the Bills roster? What would the back up plan be, to get one of the other Bills Qbs on the roster?
    Maybe, they hired the guy cause he’s done a good job of developing the young Qbs that he’s had a chance to work with & the Browns are planning on having a couple young Qb that will need to be developed for the future. Smh @every assumption made from the singular things the Browns do, how about just waiting for the end product once.

  • jpftribe

    Someone should create a web site called waiting for the end product dot com, or something like that.

  • Dustyn

    This happens often in the NFL. The Bills thought Tyrod was worth 14-16 mil a year and Tyrod and his agent felt he was worth 20mil + a year. So the team gave him a contract where the overall price hit around 20mil a year, but also gave them an out in case he doesn’t live up to it. I think they ended up getting him at market value if not slightly below.

  • tigersbrowns2

    barista …

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post WSE …

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post …

  • Believelander

    I like this potential deal. The one thing we have is a ton of cap space, and Taylor isn’t getting any four or five year potential albatross contracts. He’s at least a moderately productive quarterback and in his prime. It would make sense for both parties as Cleveland isn’t a top free agent destination, so Taylor can cash back in short-term on the payday he’s going to get denied by Buffalo.

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  • Jaker

    To answer your question, yes, him being a FA is definitely more enticing.

    If we are just looking at Jimmy vs TT (we aren’t, but, w/e), we must consider the fact that signing Taylor would also mean keeping a rookie starter, because that is what we’d be giving up, either #12 or #33 (plus more) at least for Jimmy. And anyone taken in the first 33 picks is meant to be a cornerstone player on this Browns team, so this has to be heavily considered…

    Taylor is also only 2 years older but with two more seasons of starting experience. If we go the Taylor route, giving him a front loaded contract where we can cut him loose after two years seems to be the right call. Also gives us another two years to decide which young QB Hue wants to groom, whether that be Kessler, a rookie this year, or next.

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