Much was made of the Bills 2011 draft class not having a quarterback among the nine selections taken the last weekend in April. Bills General Manager Buddy Nix stated more than once in the pre-draft process that they did not feel they had to take a signal caller in the draft. Now that they haven't Buffalo will pursue other avenues to fill out the quarterback position on their roster.
The Bills currently have just two quarterbacks under contract in starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and second-year player Levi Brown, a seventh-round pick in 2010.
Last summer Chan Gailey went to training camp with four quarterbacks. This year the Buffalo head coach plans to do the same, though the type of quarterbacks to fill those roles is yet to be finalized.
"We'll have to find a veteran free agent, or some veteran free agents," Gailey told Buffalobills.com. "We don't know which way we're going in terms of whether we add one or two. We might add a veteran and a young guy or we might add two veteran guys. We'll see how that pans out, but we have to have at least one veteran player to back up Fitz."
Nix made it clear that the backup candidate they acquire will be one with a respectable amount of time on the field on his NFL resume.
"We're going to try to get one in free agency to be a backup," he said. "A guy that can go in and play. He'll compete for the job, but he'll at least be a guy that can start a game for us and give us a chance to win."
While the Bills brass clearly has a plan for the position moving forward those plans at this point are on hold, leaving Brown as the only other signal caller with Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick's role on the team is clear as he's the forecast starter for the 2011 campaign. Brown's role however, is far from set in stone.
"Levi has kind of been forgotten," said Nix. "We haven't (forgotten him). Levi has got a lot of talent and he's a smart guy."
Beyond that Brown is a bit of an unknown quantity due to his lack of opportunity more than anything else after serving as the team's third quarterback as a rookie.
"When you've got a third quarterback he doesn't get many snaps," said Nix. "If your third quarterback is a rookie that has to learn he won't get many reps. We don't know exactly what we've got in Levi. We're going to try to find out in the preseason and in camp. He needs to take snaps and he needs to play and that's what we're going to try to get him, get him some reps."
Who the Bills are able to acquire in the way of veteran quarterbacks figures to impact just how many reps Brown gets knowing any new acquisitions will have less familiarity with Chan Gailey's offensive system. Brown spent a year in Buffalo's offensive scheme. If his retention of the scheme is sound, there's a strong likelihood that a new veteran acquisition will get the lion's share of the practice reps in order to get him up to speed.
Of course that can also work in Brown's favor. If offseason time winds up being short, Brown's knowledge of Gailey's scheme could prove to be an advantage in the event that there is a quick ramp up to the 2011 season.
Obviously a lot of things need to be squared away at at the league level to know what Buffalo's options will be with respect to the quarterback depth chart. But what is certain is there will be two more players teamed with Fitzpatrick and Brown ready to step under center.