Back in May, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that he would release players who refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Soon after, the league office got in touch with Beane to let him know that teams cannot cut players solely for that reason. Now, NFLPA chief exec DeMaurice Smith has weighed in with his thoughts.
“When a general manager speaks out and says something that is not only inconsistent with league policy, but just has a rank disregard for the rights of our players, I don’t know any other way of characterizing that other than just the stupidity that underlines it,” Smith said (via Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal.)
Given the NFL’s clarification, Smith probably doesn’t have much to worry about on this front. Still, his comments show that the players’ union will be keeping a watchful eye on the waiver wire for any questionable cuts.
Beane’s comments raise a number of questions about a player’s personal right to say no to the vaccine. Beyond that, one has to wonder how the NFL would handle this type of situation in practice. What happens if a team cuts someone for refusing the vaccine while citing their performance as the reason for the release? In that case, the union would face an uphill battle.
Earlier this week, Bills GM Brandon Beane caused a stir by saying that he would release players who refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, the league has spoken with Beane to let him know that teams cannot cut players solely for not getting their shots (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).
“Yeah, I would [cut them], because it would be an advantage,” Beane said on One Bills Live (via the New York Post). “I think there’s going to be some incentives if you have X -percent of your players and staff vaccinated. You can live normal…let’s just call it, back to the old days.”
“If you don’t, it’s going to look more like last year…I hope that, if those are the rules, we’ll be able to get enough people vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches from a year ago.”
The NFL has previously said that the vaccine would not be mandatory for players. However, players who do get vaccinated will have less restrictions put upon them, including distancing requirements.
It sounds like Josh Allen and the Bills will eventually agree on a long-term pact, but the two sides are starting to play some hardball. Speaking to reporters, general manager BrandonBeane seemed to hint that the two sides weren’t close on a deal.
“Josh and I have spoken,” Beane said (via Chris Brown of the team’s website on Twitter). “We’d love to get Josh extended, but it has to be a number that works for him and us. We’re all on same page. Josh wants to be here. That gives me hope we’ll get something done at some point. Can’t guarantee it’ll be this year.”
That tiny revelation at the end is a bit telling. It was only last month that Beane revealed that the two sides would likely focus on extension talks following the draft, and there seemed to be some optimism that the deal would be completed relatively quickly. Now, it’s sounding like the organization isn’t convinced that a deal will get done any time soon.
Of course, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. Allen could simply play the 2022 season on his fifth-year option, meaning there’s no urgency to get a deal done before the start of the 2021 season. In fact, Beane has plenty of experience dealing with this contract scenario; the former Panthers executive detailed how his front office was unable to extend Cam Newton following the QB’s third season.
“He played that season and then after that season, we got it done pretty quick that next offseason,” Beane said (via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News). “We were all on the same page. I guess what I’m saying is, you can’t force it. It happens when it happens. If it happens this year, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll be very positive that we’ll get it done next year.”
Allen had a breakout campaign in 2020, transforming into an MVP candidate and guiding the Bills to 13 wins. He finished the year having completed 69.2-percent of his passes for 4,544 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and he added another 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the grund. He also helped lead the Bills to the AFC Championship Game, the organization’s first appearance in the game since 1993. Considering some of the recent quarterback deals that have been handed out, Allen will certainly be eyeing a lucrative pay day when he inevitably puts pen to paper.
Josh Allen is now eligible for an extension, but it doesn’t sound like the Bills are currently prioritizing a long-term pact for the franchise quarterback. During an appearance on The Cris CollinsworthPodcast, general manager BrandonBeane admitted that his team was focused on free agency and the draft.
“Yeah, [Allen] said he was going to give us a nice hometown discount, and hopefully we’ll get him done,” Beane joked (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “No, in all seriousness, we’ll talk to Josh and his people later in the spring, get through the draft where we can just focus on that. That’s obviously a big financial commitment that you have to make. That will probably be sometime May through the summer. I don’t know.”
In other words, the Bills are obviously going to explore an extension with their star quarterback, but there are more pressing matters at the moment. We heard similarly earlier this year, when NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Bills would likely approach Allen’s camp about an extension in the spring or summer.
Allen had a breakout campaign in 2020, transforming into an MVP candidate and guiding the Bills to 13 wins. He finished the year having completed 69.2-percent of his passes for 4,544 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and he added another 421 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He also helped lead the Bills to the AFC Championship Game, the organization’s first appearance in the game since 1993.
With the 24-year-old passer under team control through 2022 — via the fifth-year option the Bills will exercise by May — the team will have some time to complete this process. Considering some of the recent quarterback deals that have been handed out, Allen will certainly be eyeing a lucrative pay day when he inevitably puts pen to paper.
The Bills will prevent Brandon Beane from going into a contract year. Beane signed an extension Thursday to stay in Buffalo long-term.
Considering where the franchise is now compared to where it was prior to Beane following Sean McDermott to Buffalo, this is not exactly surprising. But the first-time GM’s five-year contract was set to expire after the 2021 season. He is now locked up beyond next year.
This move comes four months after McDermott’s re-up. McDermott is signed through the 2025 campaign. It would make sense if Beane’s contract runs through the ’25 season as well. Beane and McDermott have the Bills poised to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons — something that has not happened since the late 1990s — and the team has the inside track on winning its first division title since 1995.
After a brief period when the Bills teamed McDermott with previous GM Doug Whaley, the Bills made the move to hire Beane after the 2017 draft. In 2018, Beane engineered multiple trades to move into position to draft Josh Allen. That move, though scrutinized, has paid off for the Bills. Allen is enjoying by far his best season, having made tremendous strides in Year 3. March acquisition Stefon Diggs has impacted Allen’s development considerably, as have 2019 signees Cole Beasley and John Brown. Buffalo also featured top-five pass defenses in 2018 and ’19, though its 2020 group has not performed on that level.
Beane spent nearly 20 years with the Panthers, becoming part of the Carolina organization in 1998. He and McDermott worked together from 2011-16 with the NFC South franchise, and the Bills opted to form a Panthers North of sorts. The move has led to sustained success (and a slew of former Panthers receiving Bills contracts).
The Bills are 9-3 going into their Week 14 game against the Steelers. A year after their first 10-win season since 1999, the Bills are a game up on the Dolphins in the AFC East and three up on the perennial division champion Patriots. This is certainly the franchise’s most stable point since its Jim Kelly– and Bruce Smith-led nucleus of the ’90s, and the team is moving forward with the power structure that enabled it.
Yesterday, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula fired the GM of their other sports franchise, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. In so doing, Terry Pegula cited his need to make the Sabres “leaner,” which naturally led to some concern from Bills fans that the financial situation of their owners would have an impact on the fortunes of the football club.
But as Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic writes, Terry Pegula downplayed any such fears. “First off, there is no financial situation,” he said. “I don’t know where that rumor started. … [W]e don’t have any debt on our oil and gas business. We need to do better moving forward in the sports business like every team is going to do have to do. … Talking about the Bills right now, there is no financial pressure that’s negative on the franchise.”
Terry Pegula implied that the lack of fans in the stands is much more harmful to an NHL club than an NFL team, which is true and which could be why he says he does not have any financial worries about the Bills. However, Fairburn cites an April report from Tim Graham of The Athletic in which Bills head coach Sean McDermott, among others, were said to be worried that the issues with workplace culture the Sabres and Pegula Sports and Entertainment were facing could impact the Bills’ own culture.
Similarly, if there is any belt-tightening on the Bills’ side of the Pegulas’ operation, it could impact McDermott and GM Brandon Beane first. Both men have two years remaining on their current contracts, and extension talks for McDermott were supposed to be on the table this offseason. COVID-19 has delayed the start of those negotiations, but with the HC market trending upwards, it remains to be seen whether the Pegulas will be able to make a competitive proposal when the time comes.
Of course, underlying this entire discussion is the looming issue of the Bills’ future in Buffalo. Last June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it very clear that the Pegulas will need to address the club’s stadium situation at some point in the near future to keep the Bills where they are, and he reiterated those sentiments earlier this year. Though the Pegulas may not be feeling any negative financial pressure with respect to the Bills right now, it’s hard to say if that will change when — or if — they decide to build a new stadium.
When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.
A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.
Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:
Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989
Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991
Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000
MickeyLoomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006
Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010
Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011
Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020
Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.
Earlier this week, the Steelers agreed to tradeAntonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. However, that deal wouldn’t have even materialized if a reported Pittsburgh/Buffalo deal hadn’t fallen apart.
Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Raiders general manager MikeMayock said he initially told the Steelers that he was “not interested” in making a deal for the wide receiver. When Pittsburgh was willing to drop their asking price (and when trade talks with the Bills broke down), the two sides ended up agreeing on a trade.
“I kept saying we’re not interested,” Mayock said (via Andrew Perloff of the Dan Patrick Show on Twitter). “Then the Buffalo thing fell through. One of their guys reached out to Jon [Gruden]. … [Steelers GM] Kevin [Colbert] said to me, would you trade your two? I said no, but we might trade our three.”
The GM said similar things to Mike Florio earlier this week. Despite there potentially being two additional suitors for Brown, Mayock and the Raiders were still able to pull off the deal.
On the flip side, the Bills weren’t able to pull off a trade for Brown. Reports from last week indicated that Buffalo was on the cusp of acquiring the star wide receiver, but the deal ultimately broke down. While there have been several reports that the deal was nixed because of Brown’s unwillingness to play in Buffalo, Bills general manager BrandonBeane continues to claim that it was his decision to not make the trade. The executive told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Rodak) that talks with Pittsburgh were “positive all around,” but the organization ultimately “just decided to withdraw.”
Brown’s decision to not join Buffalo has led some to claim that the Bills are not a free agent destination. Beane was quick to dismiss that “narrative,” saying the opinion “started with a bad rumor on the Antonio Brown thing when people were looking for reasons and didn’t have all the facts.”
“Don’t speak about Buffalo if you don’t know what this city and fan base is like,” Beane said. “It really pissed me off. It’s not true. How many [free agent signings] flowed through here today? … I can’t tell you how many players commented ‘This is amazing. This is awesome. What a facility. What a culture.’ This city, we love it. Anybody that says that doesn’t know Buffalo and really is speaking out of ignorance.”
November 2nd, 2018 at 8:34pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
It’s been a season to forget for the Bills. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen has been sidelined with an elbow injury, and the offense has been historically bad. The franchise is in turmoil just one year after making the playoffs for the first time in decades. That being said the team does have a lot to look forward to, with a defense stacked with talent. Bills GM Brandon Beane recently sat down with Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, and dished on a variety of topics.
The entire Q&A is worth checking out, but we’ve listed some of the notable soundbites below:
On the trade deadline and why the team didn’t make any moves:
“Just like last year, we fielded calls on some of our players, and it probably picked up mid last week as it was approaching. … We were definitely looking at avenues at different positions as we were hearing names. We kind of split up, just like we do at the 53 cut, we split up teams and call guys that we have contacts with, and ask them about certain positions, certain players. … We did our due diligence on that all the way until probably 2 o’clock on Tuesday. At that point, we decided that there was no one that we were going to give up what they were asking for that player. You’ve got to consider what they’re asking for, the price, and what contract are you taking on.”
On other teams’ interest in Bills players:
“There was definitely interest out there. I think there’s naturally going to be interest in players on teams that are not doing as well as they hoped. At the end of the day, you have to listen — that’s my job, to listen — but at the same time, we’re trying to win here, not only now, but win in the future. The guys that they were asking about I felt were part of what we’re still going to be doing as we build into 2019.”
On if the team regrets trading A.J. McCarron with the recent injuries at quarterback:
“I don’t regret (it). You don’t have a crystal ball for everything. If I knew we were going to have these injuries, yeah, because he was a guy that was here for the offseason. But you can’t predict (injuries) when you put the roster together. We could have a run of injuries at another position that we let a guy go who had talent, and you say, “Man, I wish we had that guy that we let go, because who we’re at now in October and November is not as talented as the guy we let go then.”
On his thoughts on Josh Allen’s on-field performance so far:
“You know, Josh is a rookie. At the end of the day, there’s plays that you really go, “Wow, that’s what you want to see.” And then there’s plays, you go, “That’s what a rookie does.” We love who Josh is, his work ethic, his leadership and all those things. He’s been everything we thought he would be on and off the field. It’s just you can’t predict how games are going to happen. There’s going to be games like the Minnesota game where you saw a lot of his talent. And then there’s going to be games that you see some of these other rookies face — it’s the first time he’s seen this kind of blitz or this coverage disguise. It looked like it was cover three and really it was quarter-quarter-half or something like that. Again, you play preseason, and people are not exotic with the blitzes and the coverages and all that stuff, so there’s a lot of things that he hasn’t seen.”
On whether or not he could rule out season-ending surgery for Allen:
“It’s not in the plan, but you know, there have been guys who have had to have surgery. It happens more in baseball with this injury, but there are guys in football that have had surgery, too. Again, that’s not the plan. Generally, you don’t have to have it, but we’ll see.”
When asked about his first-round quarterback’s chances of earning earlier-than-expected playing time, Beane said it could come down to how he looks in the Bills’ first preseason game.
“I think you give everybody the fair amount of reps now. Right now we’re going with Nathan (Peterman) and A.J. (McCarron) with the majority of the ones and twos, but giving Josh at least a period a day – at least,” Beane said, via John Kryk of the Toronto Sun. “And we’ll do that through the first preseason game, and then we’ll adjust from there and decide, Are we going to keep it the same? Are we going to give him more reps? Or are we going to give him less? Everything is earned here.”
Buffalo snapped major North American sports’ longest playoff drought last season by booking the AFC’s No. 6 seed in dramatic fashion, and that progress may impact the team’s quarterback decision.
Although the Bills’ offense will look remarkably different, given that Tyrod Taylor and three key offensive linemen are out of the picture, last year’s work may prompt the GM and coaching staff to go with one of the veteran signal-callers while the Wyoming-produced prodigy observes to start the season.
“Some people say, ‘Hey, don’t play a rookie at all.’ And some people say go ahead and play him no matter what,” Beane said. “And I think the thing is you’ve got to be fair to the other – when you get your 53-man roster – the other 52 players. Because everybody wants to win now, including Sean (McDermott) and I. And so (the players) see the same practice. They watch the same practices; they’ll watch the same preseason games. And if you’re not putting the best guy out there I think they’re going to lose their respect for you.”
Beane said he will be involved in the decision, along with McDermott and new OC Brian Daboll. Ownership will not steer the team one way or another in this matter, per Beane. Daboll last served as an NFL coordinator for the 2012 Chiefs, who went 2-14, but he served as national champion Alabama’s OC last season.
“It will be a group decision,” Beane said. “There’s Sean and I. We’ll obviously talk. There’s Brian Daboll. He’ll be involved. He knows more than everybody who’s hitting everything. He’s in every meeting with these quarterbacks. It’s his offense.
“… We’ll talk to (owners Terry and Kim Pegula) about the evaluation process. ‘Hey, this is what A.J. did well in Game 1 … this is what he’s got to improve on.’ Or, ‘This is what Josh did what, and what he’s got to improve on.’ And same with Nathan. So, yeah, we’ll definitely talk.”
Despite his five-interception disaster in Los Angeles last season, Peterman showed well in minicamp. McCarron would seemingly be the best bet for veteran stability, but Allen’s displayed improvement in training camp. Allen was viewed as a longer project than peers Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold coming into the draft.
“(Allen) was behind, being in the draft, whereas both A.J. and Nate were already learning Brian Daboll’s system a month-plus before Josh got there,” Beane told Kryk regarding Allen’s summer progression. “But definitely, by the time we left there in June he was mentally there. Now it’s just catching him up physically, knowing all the plays – it’s a big playbook – and getting the guys lined up. But he has done a great job to this point.”