2015 Buffalo Bills Player Profile: EJ Manuel


Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) stands on the field before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to be a big year for EJ Manuel in a Buffalo Bills uniform.  What he does with it could make-or-break his career.

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There was a lot of controversy in the Buffalo front office when Manuel was drafted 16th overall in the 2013 NFL draft.  Then head coach Doug Marrone didn’t want any part of bringing in the former Florida State Seminole but general manager Doug Whaley wanted him.

And Whaley got him.

Manuel won the starting quarterback job throughout training camp and started the first five games of his rookie season until injuring his knee on a Thursday night contest against the Cleveland Browns.  He came back into action in week 10 and started the next five games until sitting out the last two weeks of the season.

Throughout his rookie season and his first 10 starts as a professional quarterback, Manuel threw for 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 1,972 yards and a 58.8 completion percentage.

In the 2014 offseason the Bills brought in veteran Kyle Orton to come in and compete with Manuel for the quarterback job.  Manuel won the job but turned it over to Orton after leading Buffalo to a 2-2 start to the season.

Manuel failed to see the field again in 2014 finishing the season with six touchdown (one rushing), three interceptions, 838 passing yards and a 58% completion percentage.  Orton led Buffalo to an impressive 9-7 record, falling just short in making the playoffs for the first time since 2000.  With Orton announcing his retirement from the NFL at the end of the season Buffalo was forced to look elsewhere to bring in more competition for Manuel heading into the 2015 offseason.

Sep 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Whaley didn’t waste much time in finding plenty of competition for Manuel this offseason.  Tyrod Taylor was brought in as a free agent and Matt Cassel was acquired via trade with the Minnesota Vikings for an exchange of multiple draft picks.

As stated before, it’s a make-or-break year for Manuel in Buffalo.  He hasn’t proven to be a franchise quarterback (although he’s been given limited time to prove otherwise) and fans are ready for the organization to move on from the third-year pro.  It’s been rumored that Manuel, if not named the starter, may not even be on the team once the season kicks off.

If that’s the case, it could swing a deal for another quarterback elsewhere in the league or Whaley and Ryan could look to free agency at quarterbacks such as Michael Vick or Matt Flynn.

Looking forward to preseason, I don’t believe that Manuel will be cut before getting one last chance at starting in a regular season game for the Bills.  I believe he’ll enter the season as the starting quarterback in Buffalo.  With the weapons that now surround the quarterback position there’ll be no excuses from here on for him not to be successful in the NFL.

Projection: Starting quarterback, week one.

Next: Circling The Wagon: Tyrod Taylor, Schedule