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Bills trade Cardale Jones to Chargers

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Los Angeles just got a new backup quarterback.

NFL: Buffalo Bills-Minicamp Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

One day after kicking the tires on Robert Griffin III, the Los Angeles Chargers have decided to go in a different direction. On Wednesday, the club upgraded its backup quarterback slot by trading for second-year Bills passer Cardale Jones.

In return, the Bills will receive a conditional draft pick.

Jones, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has thrown just 11 passes in his NFL career. He rose to fame at Ohio State, where he led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014, despite starting the season as the team’s third-string passer.

The move to the LA reunites Jones with Anthony Lynn, the Chargers’ new head coach. Lynn was the Bills’ offensive coordinator last year and was the interim head coach for the final game of the season. Jones made his season debut in that game, throwing 6 of 11 passes for 96 yards and an interception.

Jones will join a Chargers depth chart thin behind an aging Philip Rivers. While the durable quarterback hasn’t missed a start since 2005, he’s also going to be 36 years old this season. His primary backup prior to the trade, Kellen Clemens, is 34 and hasn’t made a start since 2013. Third-string passer Mike Bercovici was an undrafted free agent in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Bills relieve some pressure from a crowded QB race. Tyrod Taylor has broken out since moving north, earning a pair of Pro Bowl invitations in his two seasons as Buffalo’s starting QB — though that has more to do with a shallow pool of available passers than his play behind center. With Jones gone, he’ll now be backed up by journeyman T.J. Yates. The franchise can also turn to 2017 draftee Nathan Peterson should the former Pitt project develop quickly as a pro.

The move makes sense for all parties. Jones will have a greater opportunity to stake his claim as a foundational player for a Chargers team that will need to begin planning for life after Rivers. The Bills, while swapping a fourth-round pick for a later-round selection, clear space from a log jam at quarterback and make a potentially difficult preseason cut a bit easier.