Kelly: Bills need franchise QB

Updated: November 26, 2009, 10:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Buffalo Bills have started nine different quarterbacks since Jim Kelly retired -- and the Hall of Famer says a key to a return to greatness for the franchise begins under center, USA Today reported.

Kelly, who wants to help the team return to greatness and assure its long-term future remains in Buffalo, says that quarterback could be Florida's Tim Tebow, according to the report.

"Whether it's Tim Tebow, whether they'll have a shot at him when draft time comes ... you have to look at the top three quarterbacks in the draft, really study them. And you look for a guy with good character, good leadership ability and good arm strength -- and a guy who doesn't come from California," Kelly said, according to the report.

Quarterbacks from the Golden State haven't done well of late on the shores of Lake Erie, Kelly said, according to the report. Rob Johnson went 4-7 from 1998-2001; former first-round draft pick J.P. Losman didn't pan out and landed in the UFL after losing the starting job to Trent Edwards; and Edwards was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick last week by interim coach Perry Fewell.

While Kelly admires Edwards, he believes it's time for the team to move on, according to the report.

"I like Trent personally," Kelly said, according to the report. "He works hard. But he's had three years. It's time to find somebody who is the future of the Buffalo Bills. If I'm the owner, that's what I'm thinking. "

The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls with Kelly at quarterback. But there's been little to shout about in Orchard Park lately: Coach Dick Jauron was fired two weeks ago and the team is headed for its 10th consecutive season without making the playoffs.

"You have to start with the head coach and you have to start with finding a good signal caller," Kelly said, according to the report. "You look at Indianapolis. You look at Pittsburgh. You look at New England. You look at what Drew Brees is doing in New Orleans. San Diego. All the teams that are doing well, they all have quarterbacks.

"The teams that are struggling, they don't have a quarterback," Kelly added, according to the report. "You need that guy behind center, not only the guy who can throw the ball and make big plays. But to be the leader and be able to pull people together."

According to the report, Kelly also said he wants to meet with the Bills front office and owner Ralph C. Wilson to offer his assistance in luring coaches and players to Buffalo, and eventually becoming part of an ownership group that would keep the Bills in western New York. Wilson is 91 and there are grumblings that after his passing, the Bills could be purchased by the highest bidder and moved out of Buffalo.

"He's kept this team here for 50 years when there's been so many opportunities for him to sell the team and for them to get rid of it and move it elsewhere," Kelly said of Wilson. "I would love for Mr. Wilson's legacy to live on in western New York as a guy who went the extra mile to make sure this franchise did stay well after his time. And I hope he lives to be 110."

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