BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone has made it clear the past couple weeks that he was unhappy with the Bills’ backup quarterback situation, so it came as no surprise Tuesday when the Bills signed veteran quarterback Jordan Palmer and released Thad Lewis.
Lewis was the Bills’ primary backup to starting quarterback EJ Manuel last season. He ended up starting five games because of Manuel injuries, and actually played decently: he completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 1,092 yards, threw four touchdowns and three interceptions and the Bills won three of his five starts. Some actually felt Lewis was the Bills’ best quarterback, not Manuel, from the outside looking in.
Despite his relative success in 2013, the writing toward his release had started to accumulate on the wall in the past 10 days. Lewis had a disastrous performance in Buffalo’s third preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which he completed just one of six passing attempts for 18 yards with one interception, giving him a 0.0 quarterback rating for the game. On Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he wasn’t one of the three quarterbacks who saw playing time for the Bills.
On Monday, Marrone implied during a press conference that the Bills could be looking outside the organization for an improvement at the position.
“If we feel at the end of the day that it’s not good enough to win with, which we haven’t seen yet, there’s only two ways to go,” Marrone said about the team’s backup quarterbacks Monday, according to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com. “Either you put a lot of work into those guys in getting them better until you get to where you feel comfortable with it, or you have to upgrade that position some other way.”
Apparently, the Bills believe Palmer can be that upgrade.
It’s not exactly going to be difficult for Palmer to be an upgrade, considering how low Lewis set the bar this preseason. Palmer, who was released Sunday by the Chicago Bears, is in the midst of a solid preseason in which he has completed 70 percent of his passes for 225 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
That said, Palmer has been in the league since 2008, has never started a game and has just 59 yards on 15 passing attempts, with two interceptions. A player who was released in favor of Jimmy Clausen and rookie sixth-round pick David Fales in Chicago won’t exactly leave Bills fans inspired to think the team is bringing in a quarterback who can step in adequately if needed on the Bills offense.
Palmer, the younger brother of Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer, might not necessarily be a lock to make the 53-man roster. He’ll have to prove his capability on the field in Buffalo’s preseason finale versus the Detroit Lions on Thursday. Most likely, however, he’ll be kept on the roster as the Bills’ third-string quarterback behind second-year quarterbacks Manuel and Jeff Tuel.
Kiko Alonso placed on Reserve/Non-Football Injury list
The Bills moved star linebacker Kiko Alonso, who tore his ACL in July and is expected to miss the 2014 season, was moved Tuesday to the reserve/non-football injury list from the active/non-football injury list.
With’s Alonso expected move to the reserve list, he will no longer count against the team’s active roster total.
The designation leaves the possibility open that Alonso could return to the field this year. Much like the Physically Unable to Perform List, Alonso could be activated by the Bills between the sixth and eleventh weeks of the season if he is cleared to play.
That said, the designation shouldn’t be seen as an indicator that the Bills expect Alonso to return. An activation by the end of Week 11 (Nov. 18) would mean Alonso was ready to play just slightly more than four months after having surgery on his torn ACL, which would be an incredibly rapid recovery.
The non-football injury designation versus an injured reserve placement is significant, however, because it means Alonso will not earn credit for an accrued NFL season if he remains on the list for the entirety of the 2014 season. As ESPN’s Mike Rodak noted in July, that would make Alonso a restricted free agent, not an unrestricted free agent, after the 2016 season.