The Buffalo Bills have relieved general manager Doug Whaley of his duties, according to buffalobills.com.
The Bills, who were 30-34 in Whaley’s four seasons as general manager, decided to make the change less than 24 hours after the conclusion of this year’s NFL draft. Speculation has run rampant that Whaley’s job could be in jeopardy in recent weeks, with new head coach Sean McDermott quickly becoming the “one voice” of the Bills.
Whaley did a respectable job of finding inexpensive talent in free agency, as Richie Incognito, Zach Brown, Lorenzo Alexander and Tyrod Taylor have all made the Pro Bowl with the Bills during Whaley’s tenure as GM. While there were definitely some ugly contracts handed out by Whaley (Charles Clay and Chris Williams come to mind), his ability to identify underrated players was definitely an asset to the front office.
Perhaps Doug Whaley’s biggest perceived failure was trading up to the #4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to select Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Buffalo gave up the #9 overall pick in 2014, as well as first and fourth round picks in 2015 in the deal. In what was a very deep receiver draft, the Bills passed up on Mike Evans (6th, Buccaneers), Odell Beckham Jr. (11th, Giants), Brandin Cooks (20th, Saints), Kelvin Benjamin (28th, Panthers) and Allen Robinson (61st, Jaguars).
Whaley also made the decision to have Tyrod Taylor benched in the team’s final game of the regular season, in order to avoid a potential $ million injury guarantee on Taylor’s contract. While the Bills were out of the postseason race, the move was largely derided throughout the media, a group Whaley seemed uncomfortable in front of.
The organization’s search for a new GM has begun immediately, with Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane getting a lot of mentions.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Bills have fired GM Doug Whaley as expected. Carolina asst GM Brandon Beane top candidate to replace him as reported Saturday</p>— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) <a href=”https://twitter.com/JasonLaCanfora/status/858672285737156612″>April 30, 2017</a></blockquote>
Beane would make a lot of sense, as he has a prior working relationship with head coach Sean McDermott, who was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator prior to taking the head job in Buffalo. Whoever the next general manager is, it’s clear that they will need to be on the same page as coach McDermott, as he clearly has the ears of owners Terry and Kim Pegula.