Bills Backup QB Relieved for ‘Surprise’ Trade Out of Cleveland

Case Keenum

Getty Case Keenum #5 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after throwing a pass for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Buffalo Bills replaced former backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky by making a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire Case Keenum during free agency. In March, the Bills made received the 34-year-old quarterback, who had served as Baker Mayfield’s backup since 2020, in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round pick.

Keenum, who’s bounced around the league quite a bit since he was first signed to the Houston Texans’ practice team in 2012, broke his silence about his abrupt exit from Cleveland in an interview with The Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski.

ALL the latest Bills news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bills newsletter here!

After the Browns pulled off the surprise trade with the Houston Texans to land starter Deshaun Watson, it was widely assumed that Keenum would remain in Cleveland. The undrafted quarterback out of Houston was heading into the final year of his three-year, $18 million contract, per, which included a $1 million bonus due on the third day of the 2022 league year, which he received.

Since Keenum’s exit, the Browns have been embroiled in legal drama surrounding Watson, highly criticized for how they’ve treated Mayfield — it’s suffice to say the quarterback situation in Cleveland is an all-around nightmare. However, that’s no longer Keenum’s problem.

While Keenum admits to Skurski that the trade to Buffalo caught him off-guard, “I felt we left things pretty good with Cleveland, but obviously, they had some other things they wanted to do.” Things which have backfired terribly.

Overall, Keenum is both relieved and grateful for the fresh start in Buffalo:

Honestly, to have a team come get you and not get released and go sign somewhere, they wanted me, they traded for me. It feels great to have a team like this, the caliber of players, the talent on the team, the type of offense they run, what Josh (Allen) has been able to do. To be able to come and learn and grow my game and get myself out of my comfort zone and learn some new offense has been really good. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It may have been a little bit of a surprise at the time, but man, it’s full excitement, ready to go. I’ve been excited to get here and work. It’s been a great spring.

Josh Allen Gives Keenum the Nod of Approval

Josh Allen

GettyJosh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills flexes as his teammates take the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022.

Having a viable backup for Allen is undoubtedly an extremely important aspect of the Bills roster, and chemistry in the quarterbacks’ room is paramount. According to Allen, Keenum is fitting in just fine.

“Golf, humor, and personalities, we match up pretty well,” Allen said. “He’s a great dude, he’s been around the league a long time, he knows a lot of different things. Been in multiple offenses, he knows how to deal with guys, so I can lean on him heavily about things that I see, things that he sees. … I’ve got great respect and trust in him, so that’s something that developed really quickly, and I’m sure is only going to get better with time.”

Signing with the Bills marks Keenum’s seventh team since he first joined the NFL, so he’s used to having to quickly acclimate to new cities. However, the veteran quarterback says it was easy to find his footing in Orchard Park.

“It’s a fresh start,” Keenum said. “A great city. I think Buffalo has exceeded my expectations in a lot of different ways, including off the field, out of the building. It’s been great.”

Keenum Faces Competition With Matt Barkley to Be Allen’s Official No.2

While it’s largely assumed Keenum will be Allen’s defacto backup for the 2022 NFL season, the team also signed quarterback Matt Barkley. The 31-year-old former fourth-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft who previously spent two seasons with the franchise, serving as Allen’s backup between 2018 and 2020.

With Allen and Barkley already having solid rapport on the field, and the two are close friends off the field, coming in as an outsider could’ve been a polarizing situation for Keenum. However, it’s been quite the opposite.

“I think we’re all like-minded people,” Keenum said. “Beating him at golf every time we play is great,” Keenum said. “It’s been fun. We’ve got a competitive edge. We’re competing in everything we do. If it’s trivia in the quarterback meeting room, or golf course, or throwing the nets during team periods or whatever. It’s great. A lot of great competition.”

While Keenum admits quickly absorbing Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s schemes has “been tough,” he says both Allen and Barkley are helping him get up to speed:

Josh has been a huge help. He’s so good. That whole quarterback room with Joe (Brady) and then with Ken when he comes in and then Matt having a background in it, too, it’s been a very good learning by committee. They’ve helped me out tremendously, so it’s been great. It’s kind of getting me out of my comfort zone and growing me a little bit in different ways that I haven’t done before.

READ NEXT: Bills Release Veteran WR Amid ‘Procedural Move’: Report