Former Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor sat on his balcony at the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii and, for the first time, really thought about how far he'd come in a year.
This time last year, he was a pending free agent who had just 35 passing attempts under his belt in four NFL seasons. He had no idea how he would be viewed by the league or where he'd end up.
Now Taylor is a Pro Bowler as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
It's a dramatic rise for Joe Flacco's longtime backup and the Ravens' sixth-round pick in 2011.
"The Pro Bowl, the accolades, it's definitely an honor," Taylor said Wednesday as fans stood in line to get his autograph. "It feels good to be acknowledged."
Technically speaking, Taylor went to the Pro Bowl before Flacco. However, Flacco could have gone to last year's Pro Bowl as an alternate – which is how Taylor ended up in Hawaii – but declined the invitation because his wife had their third child that week.
This time last year, Taylor still thought there was a chance he could sign with the Ravens to be Flacco's backup once again. Everybody assumed Taylor would head elsewhere where he would have a chance to become a starter, but like suitors were lining up, Taylor said.
Taylor said Denver, where his former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak took over as head coach, expressed interest. The Ravens were interested in keeping him as their backup. And then there was the Bills.
Taylor signed with Buffalo and beat out E.J. Manuel and Matt Cassel for the starting gig. He then threw for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions, and ran 104 times for 568 yards and four more touchdowns.
He showed the flashes that he displayed in Ravens practice on a weekly basis, and was one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the NFL for fans to watch.
"I had faith in my ability," Taylor said. "I think the coaches and players in Baltimore believed that I could play. It was just a matter of timing. I had to work for it. All I wanted was the opportunity to showcase what I can do."
Taylor holds no malice toward the Ravens for not providing that opportunity. With Flacco on board, and never missing a start, Taylor had little chance to show that he could be an electrifying starter.
"I had to find other ways to better myself and my game," Taylor said.
"I learned a lot from Joe. I know a lot people say the best experience is always game experience, but you get a lot from watching. I wasn't pushed into those opportunities, and it was a lot of hard work. I had to learn in different ways, learning from Joe, picking my coaches' brains, learning from Coach Harbaugh."
Taylor is still in touch with his friends on the Ravens. He's still in a group text chat with Flacco, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and others. When Taylor had a chance, he would watch his former team.
So he was well aware when Flacco went down with the first major injury of his career. In any other season, Taylor would have finally gotten his chance to shine. Only after he left did the Ravens have a need for a backup quarterback.
"For him to get injured, it's really unfortunate, but I'm sure he's going to bounce back," Taylor said. "You can play the what-ifs, but if I was there, maybe Joe doesn't get hurt. God just had a different plan."