On the heels of a promising 2010 debut by Ryan Fitzpatrick in a close Week 3 loss at New England, the Buffalo Bills made another decision at the quarterback position Monday parting ways with Trent Edwards.
"We made the decision to release Trent Edwards," said Gailey. "Those kinds of decisions are never easy. He gave us everything he had. We just felt like we were not going to go back in that direction at the next juncture. Trent did the best he could. He's a great young man and I wish him the best."
The players, who largely found out about the news from the locker room television, were understandably shocked.
"It was pretty surprising to all of us," said Roscoe Parrish. "He had the 'C' on his jersey and it's there for captain. He was our starting quarterback two weeks ago and to have this happen it's kind of shocking, especially after the game. In the NFL you never know what will happen. We have to move on. We can't dwell on it."
"It's something that is obviously part of the game," said Jonathan Stupar. "Players get released all the time. It is a little difficult to swallow because ever since I've been here, he's been here. He's been our quarterback. But the organization has to make the decisions they feel they need to make. We just go out and do what we can with the guys we've got."
Gailey said that Edwards took the news in much the same way that he took his demotion to the backup quarterback role a week ago.
"He handled it very professionally," said Gailey. "He is a guy that faces everything straight on and he was disappointed I believe, but he understands it's a business."
Fred Jackson was one of the few players that had the chance to speak with Edwards after he got the news of his impending release.
"He's definitely disappointed," said Jackson. "It wasn't what he was expecting but, he said he's okay and hoping that something else can happen for him this year. I'll be in contact with him and hopefully some things can move around for him."
The former third-round pick had a star-crossed career with the Bills. As a rookie he stepped in for an injured J.P. Losman and played well helping Buffalo post five victories in 2007. He went on to earn the starting job in 2008 and had his best season with Buffalo, completing more than 65 percent of his passes while throwing for just under 2,700 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
But after a 5-1 start, the team could not put wins together and Edwards' play suffered as the team limped to a 7-9 finish.
In 2009 Edwards' play took a noticeable step back as several offensive changes compromised the offensive unit's effectiveness. Edwards' play became considerably more conservative and he was eventually benched by interim head coach Perry Fewell after Week 10 last season.
Edwards appeared to rebound under new head coach Chan Gailey with one of the most promising preseasons of his career, but in the first two weeks of the 2010 season some of the shortcomings of his play in 2009 returned and he was benched this past week serving as the team's backup quarterback.
"I understand that and I can see where people would look at that and wonder what's going on, but as I said I feel like it was close going in," Gailey said. "I felt like as we looked and evaluated everything that we had seen up to this point that that was the direction for the future for our football team. It wasn't an easy one, I can promise you that, but that's where we felt like we needed to go."
In his career with Buffalo, Edwards appeared in 34 games making 32 starts. He had a career record of 14-18 as a starting quarterback for the Bills. He completed just under 61 percent of his passes (60.9) throwing for 5,739 yards with 25 touchdowns and 27 interceptions and a passer rating of 76.8.
In each of his first three NFL seasons Edwards missed games due to injury, missing two in 2007, another pair in 2008 and four games last season.
At this point Edwards' roster spot remains vacant. Gailey said they are considering adding a third quarterback. The Bills head coach also said that former seventh-round pick Levi Brown, who was waived during final cuts would be a consideration.