There was an early present under the Christmas tree for QB Matt Barkley on Friday. Though he only joined the team in Week 10 and put in less than half a season with the Bills, Barkley made enough of an impression to earn a two-year contract extension from the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
"It's worked out pretty well," Barkley told Buffalobills.com. "At the outset of the season I was injured and got released and was sitting on my couch at home not knowing what the future held. But at the same time I kept working and staying confident and worked to get back on the field. To see the extension today and knowing I have a future with the Bills and knowing it's a place I really want to be… I love this team and this organization and the QB room we have, it's really, really special."
Barkley put the offense back on track and is only start of the season and a 41 to 10 win over the division rival New York Jets in week 10 and then served, with veteran Derek Anderson, as valuable mentors for rookie quarterback Josh Allen the remainder of the season.
"They're true, professional football players. That's what it comes down to," said Josh Allen of his fellow QBs. "They're all about the team. Whatever they can do to help the team is what they're going to do, no matter what the scenario calls for. To have that type of support, we sit and watch film every day. They're in there telling me what they see, what they feel. They help me out a tremendous amount. I appreciate what they've done for me."
"I think just my experience both from college where my college system was really similar to what we're running here now, and all the positions I've been in across my six years in the NFL, both as a starter, second string, third string," Barkley said. "I've been with Hall of Famers and lots of types of quarterbacks and all of that has helped me to both play, like winning that game against the Jets, but also help Josh (Allen) and help provide a different perspective to help him learn every day. What it means to be a pro, leading the guys or reading defenses and seeing things just a little differently."
Head coach Sean McDermott specifically referenced on Monday how fired up Barkley was on the sidelines when Allen converted the 4thH-and-1 at the end of the game to ensure the Bills would kill the clock and beat the Lions last Sunday. It's Barkley's ability to embrace the team concept that his head coach appreciates most about the signal caller.
"To have the outlook, he's got a daily, call it joy, I guess about him, a presence and energy about him, a positive vibe where he roots for Josh," said McDermott of Barkley. "On 4th-and-1 at the end of the game, that (reaction) says a lot about Matt, and the way that he was raised and what he's added to this point.
"I know what he did with the Jets week there, but also and just as important is what he does when he he's not on the field and how he supports the team. He's very unselfish in his approach, same with Derek Anderson. That's how you build a football team, with unselfish guys that put the team first, and are happy when someone else has success."
For Barkley such an approach is something he's seen work for other successful teams he's been a part of over the years, and it comes naturally to him.
"I think that's one of the coolest things about our QB room with Derek Anderson and myself with Josh," said Barkley. "There's no animosity among one another. No one is trying to undercut one guy or go behind anyone's back to get an edge. It's a real cohesive group where we're all trying to get better and help one another grow. As much as I can help the team whether it is on the field or the sideline, as long as I can be an asset and help this team win I will do that."
The contract extension is strong evidence that the Bills are committed to Barkley as their backup quarterback for the foreseeable future behind Allen as the contract runs through the 2020 season.
And though his role is clearly defined with Josh Allen the franchise quarterback going forward, Barkley could not be more pleased with where he has landed after six years of trying to find a place he can call home in the NFL.
"My transition is a little unique," he said. "Not one that I anticipated in the NFL, but I couldn't be more grateful for where I am right now. It's a pretty cool day for me."