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Vic Carucci's Bills Mailbag: McDermott to have a major say in Tyrod call

You have Buffalo Bills questions that you've submitted to me via Twitter @viccarucci.

I've got answers:

@me66ina: So who has the final decision on Tyrod Taylor, assuming Doug Whaley does not want him but new coaching staff does?

VC: The ultimate final say in all major organizational decisions belongs to ownership, although Terry and Kim Pegula are inclined to lean heavily on the opinions of their general manager and coach. After all, that's why they're on the payroll. The Pegulas also are the ones who would be writing the checks for the $30.75 million Taylor is guaranteed if he's on the roster past March 11, so it stands to reason they would have to be satisfied with the rationale behind the investment.

Given how things unfolded last season, it's hard to imagine Whaley reversing what appeared as a fairly clear stance that Taylor was not the Bills' long-term answer at quarterback. He was ready to see what the Bills had in rookie Cardale Jones before his lone appearance of the season in the finale against the New York Jets. He was ready to see what other alternatives might be available in free agency or the draft or via trade.

However, it's also hard to imagine Sean McDermott not having a strong say in whether the Bills retain Taylor by picking up his contract extension.

Either way, both must live with the consequences, but my understanding was that McDermott accepted the job with the condition of being able to equally collaborate with Whaley on how the roster is assembled.

Entering his first season as a head coach, it would behoove him to want to maximize his ability to start off on the right foot, which means doing all he can to avoid a worse finish than 8-8. Taylor, at the minimum, gives you a better chance of holding the fort than Jones or a rookie. And perhaps coordinator Rick Dennison and the rest of the new offensive staff will find ways to improve Taylor's game, which has yet to reach the level of indisputable franchise quality.

Does keeping Taylor make the Bills better? That's the $30.75-million question McDermott and Whaley will try to answer.

@BVattimo: Do you think the Pegulas purposely searched for an anti-Rex type of head coach?

VC: I'm only speculating, because I don't know the precise nature of what they were thinking during the search, but it's common for NFL owners to hire the opposite of the coach they fired.

It's also my understanding that, although Whaley was put in charge of the search, the Pegulas quickly became enamored with McDermott, who was the first of the four coaches they interviewed. From what I have been able to gather, McDermott won them over during a three-hour dinner with only the three of them on a yacht near the Pegulas' home in Boca Raton, Fla. That was the night before McDermott's formal interview − which lasted about six hours − with the Pegulas, Whaley and Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos.

McDermott presented himself as being exactly what he is: a highly organized, detailed, demanding, no-nonsense person. He's all about faith, family and football. He's a classic grinder, putting in long hours at the office and expecting his assistant coaches to do the same. Unlike his predecessor, McDermott is not going to try to win you over with personality. He wants to do that with results, which is part of the reason he has said nothing publicly since being introduced as the Bills' new head coach on Jan. 13.

After the boastful promises, blunders and other clownish aspects of Ryan's two-year run with the Bills, I'm sure this was a refreshing change for the Pegulas and why they knew they had the right guy immediately.

In fact, when the interview ended, no one contacted a car service to transport McDermott to the airport, which is pretty much the norm for NFL coaching interviews. Kim Pegula drove him there herself and told McDermott if his wife had any questions about Western New York to not hesitate to give her a call.

@realsheldawg: Do you foresee any moves that you would consider surprising?

VC: Definitely.

Heck, there will be surprise no matter what the Bills decide on Taylor, because based on my unscientific polling, a definite divide exists within assumptions about what the Bills will or won't do.

And if the Bills keep him under the terms of his current contract, there will be salary cap implications that are going to prompt other moves. Veteran players, such as defensive tackle Kyle Williams and safety Aaron Williams, could be impacted. With such a top-heavy payroll, the Bills undoubtedly have to do some maneuvering to create the cap room necessary to allow McDermott and Whaley to build the sort of team that fits McDermott's long-term vision.

I would keep an eye on every player with a big contract, because the salary bloat is going to inhibit the team's ability to try to improve.

@Tsauce88: If the Bills pick up Tyrod's option, is it even feasible to try to sign Stephon Gilmore, plus have more $to fill out roster?

VC: Probably not, unless Gilmore were to agree to something much closer to the $11 million-plus he received last season rather than the $15 million per year he wants to be on a par with Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.

Keep in mind, McDermott is a former defensive coordinator and fully appreciates how much a good cornerback means. And Gilmore is obviously a good one.

@STEVEWIBLE: I have a suspicion that Kyle Williams is going to be cut. Thoughts?

VC: I would consider him extremely vulnerable. He has two big factors working against him: age (he turns 34 in June) and salary (his cap hit is $8.3 million, with a workable $1.5 million in dead cap money).

@PatBle: Is Adolphus Washington a DT or end in the 4-3? Does he fit in the scheme?

VC: He's a defensive tackle in McDermott's defense. He has the quickness to be an effective inside pass-rusher, something on which McDermott places a high premium with his defensive tackles.

I would say Washington, whose play tailed off as his rookie season progressed last year, has a chance to be a better fit in the current scheme than he was in Rex Ryan's 3-4 base. He should benefit from the more straight-forward, simplified approach the Bills will take defensively after the many head-spinning variations and constant adjusting that were part of what Ryan employed.

@GoodsOnSports: Hey Vic, I know everyone is talking QB, but without A. Williams can they afford to not take a safety in the first round?

VC: Given the uncertainty of Aaron Williams' recurring neck problems and the lack of overall quality and depth at the position, I'd say a safety is pretty much a must for the Bills to address in the draft. I don't know that they have to select one in the first round, but they have to select one.

@md_morgante: Does LB Reuben Foster seem like a realistic pick at 10? I think we'd forget about Zach Brown real quick if that was the case.

VC: I doubt the former Alabama star would be available at that point. There's a lot of buzz he could end up going to the San Francisco 49ers with the second overall pick. Multiple draft prognosticators see him as a top-five choice.

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery, so that's going to prevent him from taking part in drills at next week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Will it cause him to fall far enough for the Bills to get him? Not likely.

I will say, though, that you expect McDermott to have defense very much on his mind with his first pick as a head coach.

@mattcorey716: What's going on with K Dan Carpenter?

VC: I suspect he will be in for some serious competition in the offseason/training camp, presuming he's still on the roster at that point.

@DeverellTom: Long-shot trade for Philip Rivers?

VC: Too long to even ponder.

@thelastbillsfan: Why am I so committed & loyal to my Bills when management continually screws up − bad contracts, overpaying, poor leadership, etc.?

VC: I'm afraid that's a deeper question than I'm qualified to answer. After all, this is only a mailbag, not a professional counseling service.

But good luck with that!

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