After being selected by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, quarterback EJ Manuel may be cut before the season begins.
This report comes from Joe Buscaglia of WKBW 7 in Buffalo, who has tracked Manuel since his arrival. Buscaglia surmises that if Manuel doesn’t show drastic improvement by the end of the summer, then he will likely have played his last down for the Bills:
“If former first-round pick and quarterback EJ Manuel doesn’t show some serious progress this spring and summer at OTAs, minicamp and training camp, he very well may be enjoying his final few months in Buffalo as a member of the organization.”
Should the Bills make this controversial move, Manuel will still be payed his full base salary ($2.8 million) for this season and the next, as his rookie contract, signed two seasons ago, is fully guaranteed.
Accuracy is a key issue here.
Manuel has completed just 58.6 percent of his passes since becoming a pro. In today’s NFL, that is frighteningly low. If you match that against last year’s season totals, 28 quarterbacks have a higher completion percentage.
He has also thrown 12 interceptions in 15 games and has an average of 6.4 yards per attempt—another low number compared to NFL signal-callers.
General manager Doug Whaley made a comment recently that indicated Manuel’s accuracy issues are exactly not what the team is looking for at the quarterback position going forward:
“I’d have to say accuracy, decision-making, being able to play the game with his eyes.”
While many would point out the simple fact that Manuel has not gotten a fair shot to prove his worth, there is a simple truth to the NFL that outweighs any of that thinking: Bad quarterback play gets coaches fired.
Head coach Rex Ryan is the new boss in town, and he needs to win now. Furthermore, Ryan isn’t married to Manuel, who was selected by the old guard.
As Buscaglia points out, this isn’t really Manuel’s fault. He was not a first-round quarterback to begin with, but Buffalo fell in love with him before the draft and went all-in on the signal-caller from Florida State.
The Bills picked up free-agent quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who is a veteran and possesses a similar skill set to Manuel at a cheaper price. With Matt Cassell as the likely starter and Taylor as his backup, perhaps the brass in Buffalo feel Manuel is expendable at this point.
If the young quarterback does get cut before the season begins, it won’t be long before he lands with a new team. Though he was clearly overdrafted in the first place, he’s still worth developing under the right circumstances.