Bills should be cautious on Young

Former No. 3 overall pick turned unwanted free agent quarterback Vince Young will work out for the...

Former No. 3 overall pick turned unwanted free agent quarterback Vince Young will work out for the Bills. (MIKE SEGAR/Reuters file photo)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

Do the Buffalo Bills really want to do this?

Vince Young, the one-time star Tennessee Titans quarterback turned unwanted free agent, will work out for the Bills in Buffalo Wednesday.

The team announced the news on its website Tuesday afternoon.

"Young is being viewed strictly as a potential backup quarterback option for the Bills," Buffalobills.com said.

That is, as a backup to entrenched starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Is it another smart personnel move by Bills general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey?

Or would adding Young risk upsetting the special team chemistry that everyone from Nix and Gailey to the ball boys can see on the team, and believes will be a strong factor if the Bills are to contend for a playoff spot in 2012?

To put it bluntly, the word inside the NFL is that Young has a poor work ethic. In Tennessee he was a me-first player, blind to his own culpability for his misfortunes as an NFLer. And that while he accepted his backup role in Philly last year, he still said dumb things and regressed on the field.

If you choose not to believe any of that, or if you don't believe off-field factors should even matter, then here are your best- and worst-case scenarios for the Bills working out Vince Young.

At worst, it costs the Bills only a flight and a hotel room to say to him Wednesday afternoon: "Thanks for comin' out, Vince. But we're going in a different direction."

At best, the six-year NFLer impresses them and the Bills sign him as a backup, one who possesses experience, rare athleticism, a good arm and a winning NFL record as starter (31-19).

Young was the third overall draft pick in 2006, after a Hall of Fame-worthy college career at the University of Texas. In five seasons with the Titans, though, Young often struggled.

Lean and long-legged at 6-foot-5, Young was AFC rookie of the year in 2006. He earned the comeback player-of-the-year nod in 2009 after injuring his knee in 2008 and never winning his starting job back from Kerry Collins.

But Young was benched late in 2010 after a heated argument with then-coach Jeff Fisher, effectively ending his days in Nashville. The Titans released him last July.

The Eagles signed Young to a one-year contract last fall to back up Michael Vick. When Vick was injured, Young started three games and completed 58% of his passes for only four TDs against nine interceptions.

Philadelphia chose not to re-sign him. He became a free agent on March 13.

So just how good, or bad, is Young?

We asked Greg Cosell, who with NFL Films has been evaluating college and NFL talent for more than 20 years, and whose incisive assessments are widely respected.

"I think that Vince Young is a quarterback that is limited in the kind of offence he can run," Cosell said Tuesday. "He needs to run an offence whose foundation is the run, so you give him the play-action pass game, because that limits your reads, and defines your reads.

"If you put him in the shotgun, he's not very good at seeing things before the snap, which is a very, very critical part of playing quarterback in today's NFL -- particularly if you're in the shotgun in a spread, because it's always up to the quarterback in the spread to figure out who potentially is blitzing."

The Bills, of course, often utilize the shotgun spread. And a spread QB who struggles in this "pre-snap phase," as Cosell calls it, is a drive-killer because defences will overload their blitzes to one side if they know the QB won't make accommodations for it.

"So what happens is (Young) becomes an improvisational, random player," Cosell said. "And because he's got a lot of physical ability, every once in a while he'll make some spectacular plays."

Between bonuses and base salary, Young earned $4 million with the Eagles. The Bills presumably would be able to get him for much less.

Young's only competition to be Fitzpatrick's backup is Tyler Thigpen, a journeyman who barely played last year.

Could Young succeed in some alt-package variation of the zone-read spread, or wildcat, that Gailey might dream up for him?

"Theoretically, yes," Cosell said, because Young can provide the dual threat.

But, of course, Brad Smith already fills that function on the Bills.

And it says here it would be asking a lot of Young, given his past, to be the backup to one quarterback, let alone two.

Be careful, Buddy and Chan.

SPEAKING OF 2006 DRAFT BUSTS: The other widely celebrated 2006-class QB who some thought would be an NFL star (raises hand), Matt Leinart of USC, finally found a new home. The Oakland Raiders signed the former Heisman Trophy winner. Leinart will back up Carson Palmer, as he did at USC when Palmer won his Heisman.

MUCH ADO: Ravens coach John Harbaugh told a Baltimore radio audience Tuesday morning that he thought the Patriots' three Super Bowl titles "got asterisks now" and are "stained" because of the Spygate scandal.

Harbaugh said that in answer to a question about the Saints bounty scandal.

In Spygate, the NFL fined the Pats and head coach Bill Belichick for secretly videotaping Jets coaches' signals in 2007.

Belichick helped get Harbaugh his job in Baltimore, and perhaps that's why Harbaugh was quick to issue a statement, saying he actually was referring

"to the perception that the (Pats and Saints) have a stain ... I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill and Sean (Payton) both know that."

COMINGS AND GOINGS: The Washington Redskins dumped wideout Jabar Gaffney, even though he led the team in receptions last year. He's 31 but is still speedy. He'll be picked up soon ... The New York Jets signed free-agent placekicker Josh Brown, who will compete with Nick Folk.


Videos

Photos