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When Joe Schoen arrived in Buffalo in 2017, the Bills were stumbling along in a dreary stretch — 17 consecutive seasons without qualifying for the playoffs. As the assistant general manager, Schoen watched Tyrod Taylor start at quarterback, helping the Bills to a record of 9-7 as the franchise finally crashed the postseason party.
Schoen never forgot that.
On Tuesday, Schoen and the Giants agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $11 million for Taylor, plus incentives that can inflate the deal to $17 million. No longer will the Giants go into a season without a reputable backup quarterback.
The Giants guaranteed $8.5 million of the contract, and the financial investment is high for a player who fills the No. 2 quarterback role. Of course, there are many questions yet to be answered about returning starter Daniel Jones, and having Taylor on the scene to push and compete with Jones, the Giants hope, will bring out the best in both of them.
Jones, 24, missed the final six games of the 2021 season with a neck injury. He is expected to be available when the Giants assemble for work in the spring, but neck issues are always concerning.
Jones is 12-25 as a starter, and the Giants are not expected to pick up the fifth year option on his contract, which would guarantee him $22.3 million for the 2023 season. That means Jones will be playing on the final year of his contract, making this truly a year of decision for him — working with a new head coach (Brian Daboll), a new offensive coordinator (Mike Kafka) and a new quarterbacks coach (Shea Tierney) as he learns an entirely new offensive playbook.
Jones was the No. 7-overall pick in the 2019 draft, selected by former general manager Dave Gettleman. He now has to impress a new front office. Daboll has done excellent work with quarterbacks in his NFL tenure — Josh Allen with the Bills tops the résumé — and he has expressed optimism he can make it work with Jones. There is no job security for Jones after this season, though.
Taylor, 32, is a well-traveled veteran who has limitations but has a winning record (26-25-1) as a starter and will rarely put his team in a bad spot. He has 59 touchdown passes and 25 interceptions in an NFL career, which started in 2011 as a sixth-round draft pick of the Ravens out of Virginia Tech. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015. Taylor has been with the Ravens, Bills, Browns and Chargers, and last season went 2-4 as a starter for the Texans.
The Giants saw what happens when the starting quarterback gets hurt and there are no reliable arms to bring in from the bullpen. After Jones went out last season, Mike Glennon started four games and Jake Fromm started two. The Giants averaged 9.3 points in those games, all losses, and were incompetent on offense. It was so embarrassing the scoring fadeout was one of the reasons coach Joe Judge was fired just two years into a five-year contract.
This mistake was not going to be repeated. Schoen and Daboll wanted to add an experienced quarterback with mobility. Taylor, with 19 rushing touchdowns in his career, fits. Taylor’s career quarterback rating of 88.7 is actually higher than Jones’ rating of 84.3. Taylor’s arm is not as strong as Jones but he is a low-mistake player.
Taylor was not with the Bills when Daboll arrived in 2018 and thus is not familiar with the offense the Giants will install. Last month, the Giants signed quarterback Davis Webb, a player Daboll worked with in Buffalo. Webb, a third round pick of the Giants in 2017, will help Jones and now Taylor learn the offense as he attempts to stay on the roster as the third quarterback.
This signing can be viewed in different ways. With the two-year deal, Taylor could serve as a bridge quarterback if the Giants move on from Jones after this season and select a quarterback high in the 2023 draft. Taylor served this role with the Browns for Baker Mayfield and with the Chargers for Justin Herbert. He will not balk at being the backup, nor will he accept being the backup without challenging for a starting job. In the past, Giants backups did not challenge for anything.