The Buffalo Bills surprised everyone by taking former Florida State star E.J. Manual in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Days later, the franchise made the decision to sign former Washington State signal-caller Jeff Tuel to an undrafted rookie free agent contract.
There is a difference of millions of dollars in salary between the two. With the season only a few days away, it will be Tuel, not Manuel, starting Game 1 for the Bills against the mighty Patriots.
“Jeff has gotten most of the reps and you saw there are some things that we’ve got to do a better job getting him prepared for and he has to do a better job executing on the field,” first-year coach Doug Marrone said Saturday. “It is a concern and we knew that going in. I made that decision that we were going in with three quarterbacks knowing we had to get them all ready. And this is the situation that we’re in and we have to deal with.”
Manuel suffered a knee injury and is likely out. His main competition for the starter’s role, veteran Kevin Kolb, suffered a concussion that is looking increasingly career-threatening. The franchise has signed former USC star and draft bust Matt Leinhart, but he has not had enough time to assimilate the offense.
That leaves Tuel, who wasn’t even the full-time starter for the Cougars under first-year coach Mike Leach as a senior. Tuel threw for 2,087 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions while splitting time with sophomore Connor Halliday, who passed for 1,878 yards, 15 scores and 13 picks.
If it sounds like Tuel might be punching just a bit above his weight class here, well, he is. The Twitterverse provides a bit of perspective on coach Doug Marrone’s decision to go with Tuel.
Bills fans may be pretty distressed over the situation, but all they have to do is look across at the opposing sideline to see how Tuel’s career could unfold. It was a long time ago, but Tom Brady was once a very late-round draft pick that had split time in college with another player. Now he’s a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Of course, we’re not saying Buffalo needs to organize a parade for young Tuel but, hey, it could happen. Right?
[H/T: CBS Sports]