INDIANAPOLIS -- Doug Marrone hardly walked away empty handed, but he did walk away.
And as precious as head-coaching opportunities in the NFL are, Marrone now admits leaving that job with the Buffalo Bills after the 2014 season wasn't one of the smarter moves of his career.
He calls it a mistake, even if he was able to exit One Bills Drive with $4 million from an escape clause in his contract and ultimately land a head-coaching gig with the Jacksonville Jaguars in January.
"I'm not going to sit up here and say, 'No, it wasn't,'" a contrite-sounding Marrone said Wednesday during a news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Yeah, that's definitely a big part of the learning process of wanting more time and things of that nature. You know, privately, I've talked to (Bills owner) Terry (Pegula) about that and he knows how I feel about that. I'm going to obviously keep that conversation private, but, yes, I would say absolutely (it was a mistake).
"You learn from that, and that's one of the mistakes that you wish can go back and do over and you just wish you had more time. I think when I look at it, I look at myself is I wish I could have communicated things better at that time."
Marrone didn't offer specifics, but he did say his two seasons as coach of the Bills provided ample learning opportunities.
That isn't likely to change the opinions of numerous Bills fans and some of Marrone's former players who were highly critical of him for quitting on the team.
Yet, Marrone clearly wanted to use the Combine forum to express remorse.
"I think you take away a lot," he said. "Everything's a learning experience. You look back and, obviously, I made mistakes in Buffalo. You look back on them, just a couple things, and you try to grow from it and do a better job.
"So I always appreciated that experience. I always thought Kim and Terry Pegula were great coming in. Mr. (Ralph) Wilson was awesome while he was alive when I was there, (Wilson's wife) Mary Wilson. The people in the organization, there's a lot of great people there.
"And I think when you go back and you look back, and I'll be honest -- there's some things that I should have done differently. I think I've learned from that and it's made me a better coach today."