The Buffalo Bills made their quarterback situation a little less complicated Monday evening by releasing veteran Tarvaris Jackson.
The move came on the eve of the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp and clears the way for rookie first-round draft pick EJ Manuel to get more quality practice time and compete for the starting job.
Jackson, 30, spent an unsatisfying season as the Bills’ No. 3 quarterback last year, unable ever to move ahead of lightly regarded Tyler Thigpen and become the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Nevertheless, the Bills re-signed him to a one-year contract in February. The decision to release Fitzpatrick had not yet been made at the time, and the team didn’t have any other quarterbacks on the roster.
Jackson received a $450,000 signing bonus and a $50,000 workout bonus, which he keeps. He was due to receive another $1.25 million in base salary if he had made the team.
With Jackson out of the way, Manuel gets a better chance to compete with veteran Kevin Kolb.
The Bills begin three days of mandatory practices today. Training camp opens July 28.
Manuel, the 16th overall pick in the draft, got far fewer practice snaps than Kolb or Jackson over the course of the team’s 10 voluntary spring practices last month. Kolb and Jackson got virtually an equal number of plays each session.
Manuel has had six weeks to get familiar with the playbook. Now the Bills can get the Florida State graduate more intensive and meaningful work against the first- and second-line defenders.
The move also is a boost to undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel of Washington State, the third quarterback on the roster. He was one of the top rookie free agents the Bills targeted after the draft and got almost no practice snaps this spring. Now he figures to get a little more work.
Jackson entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick of Minnesota in 2006. He has a 17-17 record as a starter.
Jackson was philosophical about his position two weeks ago.
“I’ve been in this league going on eight years now,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, I’ll make it eight. But I know how it goes. Like I said, I just come out here and do my best. In certain situations your best might not be good enough. They invested a lot in a player in the first round.”
Jackson went 7-7 as Seattle’s starter in 2011 but lost the Seahawks’ QB competition last summer to rookie phenom Russell Wilson.
Seattle traded Jackson to Buffalo last August for a seventh-round draft pick.
Jackson never was able to win enough confidence from former coach Chan Gailey to get on the field last year.
Participation at this week’s practices is mandatory for players under contract, but safety Jairus Byrd is not expected to attend.
He has not signed the tender offer the Bills made him when they placed the franchise tag on him in February. Since he has not signed, Byrd is not subject to being fined for being absent.