Falcons Sign Ex-Bills QB Ahead of Week 17 Matchup in Buffalo

Matt Barkley

Getty Matt Barkley #5 of the Buffalo Bills makes a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the third quarter at Bills Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.

When the Buffalo Bills take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17, they will see a very familiar face across the sidelines, Josh Allen‘s former backup quarterback, Matt Barkley.

Barkley, who was released by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, was signed by the Falcons on Wednesday, December 29, as first reported by ESPN‘s Field Yates, an interesting move just four days before Atlanta faces the Bills on Sunday, January 2 at Highmark Stadium.

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Barkley has already bounced around the league quite a bit this season. The 31-year-old was signed by the Panthers off the Tennessee Titans practice squad on November 9, after quarterback Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder fracture. While Barkley suited up for one game, he did not see any action.

Now, the former 2013 fourth-round pick will provide insurance for the Falcons veteran starting quarterback Matt Ryan. Barkley was signed one day after Atlanta placed backup Feleipe Franks on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, per Falcons Wire.

Bills Twitter Found the Timing of Barkley’s Signing to be Highly Suspicious

Barkley and his wife remain close with many of his former teammates in Buffalo, and after the news of him signing with the Falcons broke, Bills Twitter couldn’t help but be highly suspicious of the move.

Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time Barkley has been signed off waivers just before that team was scheduled to face the Bills. Barkley was with the Titans when they beat the Bills on October 18.

However, whatever secret information Barkley may have didn’t seem to help the Panthers. The Bills crushed the Carolina Panthers 31-16 on December 9. 13WHAM reporter Matt Catalana, for one, isn’t worried about Barkley joining the Falcons. Catalana joked on Twitter on Wednesday, “Matt Barkley will be able to let Falcons know that Josh Allen is really good.”

Barkley Was Initially Released By the Bills in 2020

As Allen’s backup, Barkley had a breakout game in November 2018 against the Jets, completing 232-yard passing yards and leading the Bills to a 41-10 victory over New York. However, Buffalo did not renew his contract when it expired in 2020. The Bills went on to pick up quarterback Jake Fromm in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Barkley moved on to sign with Tennessee Titans in early August, where the USC alum was competing for the role as the backup quarterback for starter Ryan Tannehill. During the preseason, he went 24-of-39 passing for 295 yards with three touchdowns and an interception — which wasn’t enough to lock in the backup role on the Titans’ initial 53-man roster.

On September 1, the Titans announced that Logan Woodside, who served as the backup quarterback last season, would reprise his role in 2021. Barkley was subsequently signed to Tennessee’s practice squad.

At the time, Titans general manager Jon Robinson said it was a difficult decision to make, as reported by The Tennessean.

Robinson said, “It was a really close battle. When we made the move early in camp with DeSone Kizer and then brought Matt in, I thought it made the position extremely competitive. I thought both of them battled every single day here in camp. In the preseason games, I thought Logan played well in the first (game), thought Matt played really well in the second one and I thought Logan kind of took the reins there in the third one. They’re both extremely diligent.”

READ NEXT: 4 Bills Starters Suddenly Cleared from COVID-19 List Before Week 17

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