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Bills take a flier on Young

May 11, 2012

On the heels of signing six of their nine draft picks, the Buffalo Bills agreed to terms with Vince Young on a one-year contract. According to reports, it is a one-year deal worth $2 million with an additional $1 million in bonuses.

The signing is almost without risk due to the short term and low hit for the deal. Young will likely compete with Tyler Thigpen for the back-up quarterback position through OTAs and training camp. I’d say he has the inside track for the number two spot thanks to his versatility.

Many have already linked Young’s athleticism and mobility to the system that Chan Gailey runs. The assumption is that his natural talent as a running quarterback will lend itself well to the offense run by the Bills. Obviously he will need to find his way into the offense, but the train of thought is quite accurate. Think of Young as a consolation prize to the “Mike Vick is at the airport” rumors from a few summers ago.

Young’s signing could have a number of implications to players throughout the roster based on the different roles he is capable of filling. First, he has proven himself as a starter in the league and has the raw skills to be very effective under Gailey. Second, those raw skills and his track record certainly makes him a more attractive option (on paper) as compared to Tyler Thigpen. Third, that mobility and speed could make him a viable run/pass option in a Wildcat scheme.

The two players who are most likely to be affected by this signing are Thigpen and Brad Smith. Thigpen is a viable backup, but isn’t necessarily the type of quarterback you would want to rely on for long stretches of play. This is particularly important to consider if Ryan Fitzpatrick is injured or if his game goes to hell. On paper, Young is the better option as a backup. His mobility and history of running a read option offense at Texas also makes him an effective Wildcat quarterback. Brad Smith is a luxury because he can function as your third quarterback, a wide receiver and as a kick returner. However, if you save his roster spot but keep the Wildcat threat, your team is no worse for wear.

Determining whether or not Young is a viable Wildcat option is something that will be up to the coaching staff. But his inclusion in training camp, plus the potential return of Marcus Easley and drafting T.J. Graham could potentially leave Smith on the outside looking in.

If Young ends up being a training camp casualty, the Bills aren’t any worse off than they were prior to this signing. If he earns the backup quarterback job and proves to be a viable threat for the Bills offense, they will have improved without breaking the bank. Signing Young gives the Bills two of the top three picks from the 2006 draft and further assembles raw talent and depth on both sides of the football.

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