Bills Fire GM Doug Whaley, Entire Scouting Staff

Less than 24 hours after the 2017 draft wrapped up, the Bills announced that they have fired GM Doug Whaley. The move does not come as a major surprise, as we heard earlier this week that major changes could be coming to the Buffalo front office, and it was clear that Whaley was losing clout to new head coach Sean McDermott. Indeed, the Bills hadn’t allowed Whaley to speak to reporters since the Senior Bowl in January, and that did not change during the draft. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets, McDermott “had taken over this team in every way. [Whaley] had been phased out, well before today. Now it’s just official.”

Doug Whaley

Whaley, who became the team’s GM prior to the 2013 season, did not have much success in that position, as the Bills’ best record during his tenure was 9-7, and they did not qualify for the playoffs in any of his four seasons at the helm. He also made several notable missteps, like the aggressive draft trade for Sammy Watkins and the ill-advised extension for Marcell Dareus, and he failed to identify a franchise quarterback. Nonetheless, Whaley was given the rare opportunity to hire his third different head coach after Rex Ryan was let go towards the end of the 2016 campaign (Whaley also had a hand in hiring Ryan’s predecessor, Doug Marrone). Team owner Terry Pegula also insisted several times over the course of the past several months that Whaley’s position was secure, which Mike Rodak of ESPN.com called an “awkward charade” that the Bills would have been better off avoiding.

Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com, though, feels differently. He believes, since the Bills clearly felt comfortable with McDermott running the show, it made sense for them to keep the spotlight off their rookie head coach during the draft and to bring in a new GM now to help clean up Whaley’s (and Ryan’s) messes and handle post-draft matters (Twitter links).

As Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports tweets, multiple members of the Panthers’ front office could become candidates for the Bills’ GM position due to their connections with McDermott, including Carolina’s assistant GM, Brandon Beane. Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer expects McDermott to push for Beane, and while the Panthers will try to keep him, they cannot block him from accepting a GM job elsewhere (Twitter link).

Another potential candidate to replace Whaley is Chiefs’ co-director of player personnel Brett Veach, as suggested by former NFL exec Joe Banner (via Twitter). Veach worked with McDermott when both men were in Philadelphia and is highly-regarded in Kansas City.

Pegula issued the following statement on Whaley’s dismissal:

“After a thorough review of our football operations over the past several months, Kim [Pegula] and I informed Doug this morning that we will be moving in a new direction. We have enjoyed working with Doug. He is a good person and we want to thank him for his work and commitment to our football team. This was my decision. It was not an easy decision but I believe it’s the right one for the future of the Buffalo Bills. Our search for a new general manager will begin immediately.”

In addition to Whaley, the Bills also dismissed their entire scouting staff, as Rodak reports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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11 comments on “Bills Fire GM Doug Whaley, Entire Scouting Staff

  1. bsteady7

    Why wouldn’t you fire him well in advance of the draft?!!? And get McDermott’s guy in there?

    • mcdusty31

      I thought the same…kind of bizarre…maybe there was some sort of early termination language in his contract and they saved money this way by waiting to make it official

  2. YankeesBillsNets305

    Hallelujah!!! About time!! Now we can finally move forward as an organization.

  3. realfootballfan

    Pretty sure he didn’t hire any of these coaches. It’s something that bugs me about how he’s characterized. I’m not even a fan of that team or pay much attention to them, and I know that. Same thing with how he’s always tagged with drafting Manuel when that was Buddy Hicks’ pick on his way out the door. Really, his worst thing he did was that Watkins trade, and I said that even if he had stayed healthy. A WR just isn’t worth that capital. But as far as the talent acquisition, the bulk of his job, he’s been above average. I know the Patriots certainly seem to think so. I think the bigger problem Bill fans will find out is that they still have a bad ownership problem as they did in the Wilson years for different reasons. They seem to be Snyderesque micromanagers while Wilson was cheap.

    • I see exactly where you are coming from.

      What is crazy is they actually had a really solid draft too. Figuring Whaley didn’t have much say in the decisions. The house is basically cleaned out now.

      • realfootballfan

        If he didn’t have much say, he would have been fired months ago. It was the same thing in Washington (and SF back in the day) when McCloughan got fired right before the draft; the team follows their board because they’re the ones who have already put in the work. Also, they’re the ones responsible for making the deals to trade on draft day. If anything, McDermott probably had final say from how this is characterized, but this will still be Whaley’s picks. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the guy did a bad job while he was there. The Patriots had 3 major contributors on their team now from them. If you’re going to kill a guy because he couldn’t find a franchise QB when in his 4 years at the helm, I think 2 for sure in Winston and Mariota who were out of his reach, and a guy like Prescott didn’t get picked by him, lots of people need to get fired. There just hasn’t been much at that position, and he’s still kept the roster competitive in the meantime. You don’t want to be like Jacksonville or Houston who had to give up a draft pick to get rid of a guy who wasn’t any good that they overpaid for in FA.

  4. Ajhaas85

    The players Whaley drafted weren’t necessarily the issue, it’s how they got them where the issue resides. Take for instance Sammy Watkins. When healthy, he’s a great receiver, but Whaley gave up a ton to draft him in the same draft that Mike Evans and Odell Beckham could have been drafted by staying put and keeping all of those future picks. The Dareus extension with his questionable character issues and commitment is also a glaring issue.

    • realfootballfan

      Watkins I acknowledged as a misstep, but it didn’t exactly kill them. I just think the guy gets killed by Bill fans for not finding a franchise QB, and by my count, only 2 for sure have surfaced since he had that job in Winston and Mariota, and he had neither one of those picks to get either. Prescott is the only other guy you could knock him for not drafting last year, but he’s not a franchise QB yet although the potential is there. Otherwise, I’m still scratching my head on why he gets criticized so much. He’s assembled the most talented Bills teams since the Levy days in the late 80s/early 90s. He clearly had no hand in hiring any of the coaches that came in. But how he’s spoken of, you’d think the guy was drafting like Ray Farmer or something, someone clearly out of their depth.

  5. dorfmac

    Anyone have any insight on how this may impact the UDFAs they have signed? I assumed that the now-departed scouting dept had a lot to do with identifying those players.

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