Bills Rumors: Popular Backup QB Not Expected to Make Final Roster

Matt Barkley

Getty Matt Barkley looks to pass in a game against the New York Jets.

Matt Barkley has returned to the Buffalo Bills after spending a season away, but the fan-favorite signal-caller could have a difficult time making the team’s final roster.

The 31-year-old quarterback first joined the Bills in 2018, a mid-season addition who was pressed into action due to injuries and led the Bills to a win over the New York Jets. He grew a close relationship with Josh Allen and became popular with fans, leading to his return this offseason after spending the 2021 season on the practice squads for the Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.

But one insider believes Bills fans won’t see much action this season from Barkley, who is not projected to make the team’s final 53-man roster.

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Barkley Faces Challenge

After Barkley served as Allen’s primary backup for three seasons, the Bills went with a more experienced No. 2 in 2021. The Bills convinced former second overall pick Mitch Trubisky to join the team in a backup role, selling him on the idea of developing with the same coaching staff that helped Allen to a breakout season.

When Trubisky left this offseason in free agency, the Bills traded for Case Keenum and re-signed Barkley. Katherine Fitzgerald of the Buffalo News noted that the more experienced Keenum, who was the Minnesota Vikings’ starter in 2017 and led the team to the NFC Championship game, has the inside track to serve as Allen’s backup.

“Barkley’s familiarity with the team could give him a leg up over Keenum very early on, but with [offensive coordinator Ken] Dorsey’s tweaks to the offense and with Keenum’s experience, it’s an uphill battle,” Fitzgerald wrote.

Because the Bills under head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have mostly kept only two quarterbacks on the active roster, Barkley would likely be a candidate for the practice squad.

Serving an Important Role

Though Barkley would be hard-pressed to find any playing time this coming season as long as Allen and Keenum stay healthy, he could still play an important role for the team. Allen has spoken about the importance of having some familiar faces around, and Barkley served as a mentor to Allen during his rookie season.

“I think the continuity in the quarterback room is very important to how guys play,” Allen said, via the Buffalo News. “And guys that you can trust, feed different ideas off of, guys that have been around the league and in different systems and know different concepts, it’s very helpful. It’s very impactful for a game.”

Barkley’s continuity has given him a unique perspective on Allen, watching him grow from a free-wheeling rookie with flashes of potential into one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Barkley spoke about Allen’s maturation, telling the Buffalo News that he’s gotten to see him grow into a real leader.

“I’ve seen Josh since his rookie year now, and he’s grown in a lot of ways,” Barkley said. “I think most people notice his leadership and his poise in those big-game situations. But I think he’s grown a lot in terms of being smart with the ball, and in the passing game, protecting it. He’s gotten a lot more accurate, in my opinion, from when he first got into the league. He’s started to become more vocal, which is good to see, because guys look up to him, and he’s a leader. So he’s using that platform to steer guys in the right direction.”

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