Well, it seems this is the offseason of AFC East teams pushing their quarterbacks.
First came the reports that the Miami Dolphins want to push quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Now, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report says the Buffalo Bills want to to "push" second-year signal-caller EJ Manuel by signing a veteran free agent.
It would be understandable if the Bills were looking for a backup quarterback as an insurance policy. The Bills spent the 16th pick on Manuel in the first round of the 2013 draft, when it seemed like Manuel would be available much later. If the Bills already think they need someone to push him, that would show an error in judgment on their part.
Manuel, 23, dealt with three knee injuries in 2013, and missed six games and parts of two others. His end-of-season injury was the only one that required surgery (albeit minor), but he will wear a knee brace on his left knee in 2014. His backups, Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis, failed to deliver in his stead and went a combined 2-4.
The Bills shouldn't worry about letting their quarterback grow "free of threats and backstabbing," as Freeman says. The New York Jets followed that course of action with quarterback Mark Sanchez, and stirred up a lot of controversy as a result. There were some anonymous quotes from within the locker room, but defensive tackle Kris Jenkins publicly said that the Jets "coddled" Sanchez.
Couple Manuel's injury concerns with his dubious designation as a first-round pick and the top quarterback selected in 2013, and the Bills are wise to cover their bases. The quarterback is the singular most important position on the roster. If the Bills have doubts about Manuel, they'd be foolish not to cover their bases.
Freeman mentions Eagles quarterback Michael Vick as an option. Other veteran options include Bears quarterback Josh McCown and Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel. The Bills were also reported to be interested in acquiring Josh Freeman when he was released by the Buccaneers, but he signed with the Vikings instead. Perhaps the Bills will rekindle their interest in Freeman when he is a free man again on March 11.
The Patriots at least another couple years left with Tom Brady behind center. It's going to be awhile before they have to worry about "pushing" any of their quarterbacks — unless we're talking about backups pushing each other for the No. 2 job, and the possibility of being Brady's heir.
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