by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page

The Buffalo Bills traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns on Friday for a draft pick. What was surprising is that they were able to receive a third round pick in return. It’s not just any third round pick, it’s the first pick in the third round and that gives the Bills more assets if they decide to try and move up in the Draft to grab a quarterback.
As early as a couple of weeks ago, the Bills were saying that the plan was to hold on to Taylor for the near future and pay him the $6 million roster bonus he was due next week so that they could work out a viable trade. Not having to pay that $6 million is another huge win for the Bills. That gives them extra cap space in which to try and sign a few more quality free agents in free agency starting Wednesday.

When word broke about the trade, I couldn’t believe the Bills were able to secure a third round pick in return. How did that happen? A couple of things come to mind, first the Cleveland Browns were in dire need of a veteran quarterback to hold the fort while whoever they draft in the first round next month develops. Second, there were other teams in the running for Taylor. The other clubs were said to be Denver and Arizona. With that in mind, Bills General Manager Brandon Beane had some leverage. Another factor is the Bills had announced earlier that they were willing to pay the roster bonus if need be and not just cut Taylor. That showed the rest of the league that the Bills were not about to just give Taylor away. It was very smart handling of the process by Beane.

I wrote earlier this week that I was not a proponent of the Bills moving up to draft a quarterback. One of the reasons was they had limited cap space going into free agency in which to sign players. The other main reason was I didn’t feel the quarterbacks in this draft were good enough to move up to draft. The Bills may be better off waiting to see who falls. Having that extra high third round pick, gives the Bills extra ammunition to do what they feel is best for the franchise.

What the trade means is that now it is a given that Cleveland will use either the first or fourth pick in the first round to draft a quarterback. That leaves three other clubs in the top 10 with a strong need at the position. Those clubs are The Giants, the Jets and the Denver Broncos. The other clubs with a strong quarterback need are the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings. Arizona picks 15th in the first round while the Vikings don’t pick until number 30.
The clubs in need will change when the free agency negotiation periods opens on Monday. We will know by Wednesday and Thursday who signs a viable veteran and drops out of the quarterback derby.

All signs point to the Vikings getting Kirk Cousins, but at this time it’s not a lock. If he ends up with the Jets, then that takes at least one top 10 quarterback needy teams out of the equation. The other free agents that will play into the equation are Case Keenum and A.J. McCarron. If any of the quarterback needy teams sign those players, they more than likely won’t use a first round pick on a quarterback. Either way, will know in a few short days just how far the Bills have to move up (if they chose too) in order to draft one of the better quarterback prospects in this draft.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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