Look out Brad Smith and Tyler Thigpen, here comes Vince Young.
After a much publicized visit with the Bills last week, the former third overall pick by Tennessee (2006) has decided that $2 million was enough to make him a resident of Buffalo for the next year. A former Heisman runner up, Young was the first player in NCAA history (I-A) to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season and left college with a 30-2 record as a starter at Texas. He's a BCS Champion, has rushed for 1,459 yards in the NFL, and has 46 passing TDs along with 12 scores on the ground as a pro.
However, he spent last year backing up Michael Vick and when he was asked to replace the injured starter, he looked pretty average. A shadow of the player he was, in 6 games last season, Young had just 866 yards passing, 4 TDs, and 9 INTs. He tried 18 rushes, but only gained 79 yards, with a 13-yarder his long.
If this had been the Vince Young of 2006 or 2007, or even 2009, this article would be about the footsteps sneaking up on Ryan Fitzpatrick, but after back to back 3,000-yard seasons with Buffalo, Fitz doesn't need to worry about competing for the starting job in 2012 (hopefully). Sure, fans in Buffalo are still a little sensitive about QB controversies after the Rob Johnson-Doug Flutie years, so many are likely worried that Young will be a distraction for Fitzpatrick no matter what the front office says, but this is truly not an issue for Buffalo.
Young has several times proven that he isn't a starter, so there's no reason to believe Buddy and the Bills will suddenly decide to throw him in, changing the offense and rhythm they've built around Ryan the last couple years. However, this does mean that either Thigpen or, more likely, Smith will be fighting for roster space in 2012.
Thigpen is the safest, as he's a QB in the mold of Fitzpatrick and would be the most likely replacement in the current Buffalo offense should Ryan get banged up. Brad Smith, though, was brought in to create a Wildcat option for Buffalo (something Young can now do) and that just hasn't come together. While Smith was a fantastic surprise as a receiver in a few games last season (23 for 240 and a TD), he was 0-1 on passes, rushed for just 87 yards on 20 attempts, and had just one rushing TD. If the Bills are paying Young $2 million, why retain Brad Smith?
So, while Fitzpatrick can continue concentrating on being ready to start the season uninterrupted, Brad Smith needs to find a way to elevate his game, find a space in the Buffalo offense, or he could be looking for his third team before too much longer. Either way, Buffalo hasn't added a distraction, but created more depth on their team (and at a pretty nice value, too) and fans should be excited about that.