We love to play the Buffalo Bills quarterback "what if" game. What if they didn't trade their pick in 2017 and took Patrick Mahomes, or even Deshaun Watson. What if they passed on Josh Allen and took Lamar Jackson in 2018? What if they messed up and took Josh Rosen or Mason Rudolph?
Regardless of the other paths the organization could have taken at the position, one thing can't be denied: the Bills front office has done as good of a job at setting up their young quarterback for success as they possibly could.
Allen has the luxury of being surrounded with one of the best rosters the NFL has to offer. A luxury that Buffalo's Week 1 opponent, the New York Jets and quarterback Sam Darnold, don't have.
Both Allen and Darnold head into Year 3 with lofty expectations. Now that Tom Brady resides in the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, these two are expected to bring home an AFC East title. That will start with a head-to-head matchup on Sunday, and it's clear Allen has the advantage.
The cabinet was barren for Allen and Darnold as rookies, but over the following two offseasons, Bills general manager Brandon Beane has surrounded his franchise quarterback with far more talent than the Jets have given Darnold.
The 2019 free agency period saw the Bills signing free agent wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, while the 2019 NFL Draft saw Buffalo drafting running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dawson Knox.
Beane followed it up in 2020 by pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Vikings, giving Allen a true No. 1 wide receiver in Stefon Diggs. Not to mention the selection of running back Zack Moss in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, as well as wide receivers Gabriel Davis (fourth round) and Isaiah Hodgins (sixth round).
The list isn't as long for Darnold and the Jets. New York made a big splash last offseason when they signed running back Le'Veon Bell, but that was really their only big move to surround their face of the franchise. If anything, they've lost more key contributors than they've acquired.
Darnold's wide receiver corps has been one of the league's least compelling over the last two seasons, and it doesn't look much better in 2020. The Jets let Robby Anderson walk in free agency, replacing him with Breshad Perriman, who, outside of a hot end of the 2019 season, has been a first round bust. They also selected Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Perriman, Mims, and veteran slot wideout Jamison Crowder aren't likely to keep defenses up at night.
The offensive line hasn't been much better, forcing Jets general manager Joe Douglas to take Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round.
Throwing in the departure of, perhaps, the league's best safety in Jamal Adams, and the liability of having Adam Gase as your head coach, it is hard not to bypass New York as a real threat in the AFC East.
Teams can't surround their quarterback with elite talent every year, and if they are a true franchise quarterback, they should have the ability to elevate the players around them. But the time to spend money on a supporting cast is when a quarterback is on his rookie contract. That will help get a young signal-caller to that point where they don't always need a top-tier roster.
To general managers that will be in future markets for a quarterback, use the Bills as an example of what to do. Use the Jets as an example of what not to do.
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