Bills QB Reveals He Took Massive Pay Cut to Remain in Buffalo

Matt Barkley

Getty Matt Barkley #11 of the Buffalo Bills runs during warm-up before a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on August 26, 2022.

The Buffalo Bills are looking to win their seventh straight victory when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) on Monday Night Football and like every other week of preparation, quarterback Josh Allen will work closely with backups Matt Barkley and Case Keenum.

While the Bills traded to land Keenum from the Cleveland Browns during the offseason, Allen used personal leverage to get Barkley back to Buffalo. The Athletic‘s Kaylin Kahler reported on Tuesday, December 27, that Allen was golfing with Barkley when he received a call from Bills general manager Brandon Beane asking him to phone Von Miller in order to help recruit the eight-time Pro Bowler to Buffalo.

“I’m like, alright, well, I need you to sign Matt,” Allen said. “And he said, okay I’ll see what I can do.” Barkley wasn’t aware of the deal Allen made with Beane, but the Wyoming alum asked him the very next day to come back to Buffalo, and a week later, Barkley signed with the team. “That made me pretty happy,” Allen said.

The USC alum previously served as Allen’s backup between 2018 and 2020, and Allen wanted a familiar face in the quarterbacks’ room after his backups from the 2021 NFL season, Mitch Trubisky and Davis Webb, left to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, respectively. While Barkley performed well during the preseason, with Allen as the obvious starter, and Keenum as the clear backup, the 32-year-old failed to make the 53-man roster.

Barkley signed onto the Bills’ practice squad and will earn $358,200 for the 2022 NFL season, the most a veteran with at least two years of experience can make on the practice squad. The third-string quarterback revealed to The Athletic that after he was initially cut in August, he received offers to sign with other teams — teams offering him a spot on the active roster.

If Barkley signed with one of those teams, the father of three would have made at least $1.2 million for the season, the veteran’s minimum for a player with his experience. However, the NFL journeyman, who’s played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers, knew Buffalo was special.

“All last year, it’s like man, wish I could have been back with the Bills,” he said. “We played the Bills with each team, so I saw everyone three times last year. It was wild.” Barkley noted other QB rooms aren’t as fun as the one in Orchard Park, and his wife, Brittany was thrilled to stay in Buffalo. While the massive pay cut would’ve swayed most people to go elsewhere, Barkley said Brittany cried happy tears when he decided to stick with the Bills.

Barkley Calls Allen His ‘Best Friend’ in the NFL

Josh Allen, Matt Barkley

GettyMatt Barkley #5 and Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills warm up prior to the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 04, 2020.

While the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life,” one of the biggest pulls keeping Barkley in Buffalo was the opportunity to once again be with Allen and the chance for a Super Bowl ring.

“Josh is probably the best friend I’ve made in the league,” he said. “I wanted to be here to be with this group of guys, knowing there is a shot at the Super Bowl and how well we meshed. We all get each other. And Joe (Brady) is awesome. Dorse is awesome. It’s really fun to come to work every day.”

Barkley says the reason he and Keenum, 34, work so well with Allen, 26, is that they all hold their roles with pride. Neither veteran backup is looking to steal the starting position, and Allen knows that.

“When you have a young QB who is a star and you have older guys around him to help him, there’s no weird competition or animosity, or guys thinking of taking his job or anything,” Barkley says. “A lot of teams don’t really have that in the QB room, and it can create tension.”

Keenum agrees. “Yeah, this is uncommon,” he said. “And it’s very nice when it is like this… We all see the field the same way. It’s why I love Josh, I can tell him, hey, I am going to go tell [Stefon] Diggs about this route. We all can talk to the receivers, tight ends, offensive line and we are all saying the same thing and speaking the same language.”

The 3 Bills QBs Go Out to Dinner Together Every Friday
The Athletic noted that Allen, Keenum, Barkley, and their significant others, all go out to dinner to together every Friday.

“Allen is so superstitious,” Kahler wrote, “that they’ll keep going back to the same restaurant until they lose.” When Diggs had a birthday party on a Friday, the group of six “rented a Sprinter van to take them there so they could all arrive together.”