INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterback is going to continue to be at the very top of the conversation list in Buffalo until the Bills finally procure a franchise player at the game's most vital position.
At the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the organization plans to meet with all of the top draft candidates, and it is likely that they will all be brought to Buffalo in the weeks to come for more extensive due diligence.
As for the man who has been Buffalo's starter the last three seasons, Tyrod Taylor, his status remains as murky as ever. Taylor is due a $6 million roster bonus on March 16, and if the Bills decide to give it to him, his salary-cap number for 2018 would be $18 million.
Head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane aren't tipping their hand as to what they will do, but it still seems unlikely that Taylor will be Buffalo's quarterback this season.
"Tyrod's on our roster right now, that's the plan," said Beane. "We're just taking it day by day. Like every position, we're trying to get better everywhere. We're looking at every position, including quarterback."
"At this point in the process, it's way too early to take anything off the table other than cutting him at this point, which is not in our plans," McDermott said. "He's a good football player who has been instrumental in getting us to the playoffs. Whether it's Tyrod or any of our players, you look at what's out there, you look at your options, and you make decisions based on the best interests of your football team."
There has been a report that the Bills would be willing to pay the $6 million bonus in order to give them more time to figure out what they plan to do, whether that is signing a veteran free agent, or making a big trade up on draft day to get one of the top prospects.
"It's something, obviously, that comes into consideration because it is real," McDermott said of the bonus. "It's part of the equation. It's one of the variables as we continue to move forward and go through that process."
The Bills don't figure to be in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, but several other potential free agents might suffice, starting with the Vikings triumvirate of Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. If the Bills were able to land a competent veteran, they could use their draft picks -- two each in the first and second rounds and one in the third -- to bolster a roster that has several holes.
"We're looking at everything; we really are," said Beane. "We're seeing what's out there. This year it's been well-publicized there's more veteran quarterbacks that are out there. We have to do our recon on those. If we see something that seems like it's a good fit for us and upgrades us, then we'd look to do that. Again, we're happy with where we're at with Tyrod and Nathan [Peterman] until we decide different, really."
Kyle Williams' potential return to the Bills was shrouded in a bit of mystery Wednesday. The 12-year defensive tackle is set to become a free agent, and it is believed he is considering retirement, though he has not made that official. At the Combine, general manager Brandon Beane seemed to indicate that even if Williams wants to play, it's not an automatic that the Bills will bring him back.
"We've been in communication with him and his agent [David Dunn]," said Beane. "Hopefully we'll get something done sooner rather than later. But it takes two. He's got to do his due diligence; we do as well. So yeah, at some point there would be a we-need-to-know. I'm sure they're feeling the same thing on their end. There would be a point where, you know, hey, we had to allocate those resources elsewhere, and we'll let him know at the right time. It could end up being March 14, but right now I'm not sure.
"We have to put a value on Kyle, on his ability. You can't just give him a blank check and say what you come back and play for. He could say, 'You know what, I don't want to play for that,' or, 'I think I'm this.' He is a free agent [so] another team could offer him something that is just something that he can't turn down."
Another key player on defense, linebacker Preston Brown, is also a free agent, and it's uncertain if the Bills will be able to re-sign him. Brown led the NFL in tackles in 2017 with 144, and he has never missed a game in his four seasons.
"Preston is a good player," head coach Sean McDermott said of Brown, who has started 58 consecutive games. "It was good for me to get with Preston this past season and have him control our defense. He really did some nice things. The production is well-documented. Like many of our situations, these things will work themselves out. Preston was a big part of our defense for us, controlling what we did up front."
The Bills made what could turn out to be a key addition, signing veteran cornerback Vontae Davis, who was available prior to free agency because he had been cut by the Colts last season. Davis signed a one-year deal worth $5 million, and will most likely step into the void left by E.J. Gaines who is a free agent.
"He has a lot of benefits, a lot of which have been talked about already," said McDermott. "A veteran player that fits into our system. He has a number of starts, obviously, and ball production. That said, every spot on our roster has to be earned and he'll embrace that mindset."
Davis was a 2009 first-round draft pick of the Dolphins who played three years in Miami and parts of six years in Indianapolis. He has 112 career starts and 22 interceptions.
"He's obviously been a No. 1 corner most of his career," said Beane. "Last year I know he had the injury. We vetted him out, did a lot of research. We had some people who had been with him in Miami. We did our recon on him in Indy and what happened last year. We brought him in and had a good visit. He brings size, speed, experience. It's just a guy you can get your hands on early before free agency. We were able to work something out."