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Free Agent Spotlight: QB Tyrod Taylor

Our free agent spotlight series rolls on with a look at a potential backup for Jameis Winston.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Considering what we witnessed with “Fitzmagic” last season, the next backup quarterback of the Buccaneers has a tough act to follow. Ryan Fitzpatrick is now a free agent, and he will be looking for a team that might want to use him as a bridge until a rookie/younger guy is ready to take the starting role. With that being said, Tampa Bay is now in need of a backup.

Ryan Griffin, who has been the team’s third-string for the last few years, is also a free agent. He could be an option, but if the Bucs were really that confident in him, he probably would have taken at least one NFL snap by now. The next backup for Jameis Winston might come from the later rounds of the NFL Draft, but the free agency pool could be a fine option as well.

As we roll on with our free agent spotlight series today, we look at a potential backup for Winston: 2011 sixth-round pick Tyrod Taylor.

Tyrod Taylor’s Career

After being a three-time ACC champion and the 2010 conference player of the year while at Virginia Tech, Taylor was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Ravens. He backed up Joe Flacco from 2011 until 2014, throwing for 199 yards and two interceptions in addition to rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown in 14 games. He earned a Super Bowl ring when Baltimore won Super Bowl XLVII.

In 2015, Taylor signed a three-year deal with the Bills. With Buffalo, he started 43 games in three years. He completed 62.6 percent of his passes over those three seasons, throwing for 8,857 yards and 51 touchdowns to just 16 interceptions. He ran for 1,575 yards and 14 touchdowns on 283 attempts (5.6 yards per carry). He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2015 and in 2017, he helped the Bills (9-7) reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

After the 2017 season, Buffalo traded Taylor to the Browns for a 2018 third-rounder. Taylor started just three games for Cleveland before an injury led to the official arrival of No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Once Mayfield relieved him in week three, Taylor’s time as the starter was over for good. Now, he’s a free agent.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

With Fitzpatrick and Griffin both hitting free agency, the Bucs have a pretty empty quarterback room. Winston, who head coach Bruce Arians has committed to as the team’s starter, is the only one from last year’s room that is set to return. That means Tampa Bay will need to bring in at least two more quarterbacks, if not three more for training camp. As someone with significant starting experience, Taylor would be a welcomed as a backup to Winston. Considering his knack for turning the ball over at a low rate, he would be a nice guy to have on the roster. At 30 years old, Taylor would also add somewhat of a veteran presence to the locker room.

What Will Taylor Cost?

Taylor is coming off a year in which he made $16 million for starting three games. 2018 was the second year of a two-year, $30.5 million deal that he originally signed with the Bills. He was making starter money, so what he will cost this year might be tricky to gauge. It’s safe to say he won’t get that same type of contract this spring, but he could still be looking for lower-end starter money somewhere.

Will It Happen?

At this point, I’d lean toward no. If Taylor is open to being a backup, Tampa Bay should talk to him. But he is 30 years old, meaning his window for being a starting quarterback in the NFL is still realistically open. With the Bucs committed to Winston as their starter, it wouldn’t make much sense on Taylor’s end to sign with the team. Especially considering what he just went through in Cleveland, he probably wouldn’t love the idea of coming in and sitting behind another young quarterback.