I'm actually beginning to feel sorry for Doug Whaley. Bit by bit, the Bills' general manager has seen his power and stature diminished as the Pegulas conferred unprecedented control of the football operation to their new head coach, Sean McDermott.
Whaley has become a mute, emasculated figure. He's not allowed to speak for the organization anymore -- even on the rare occasions where they used to trust him. The latest indignity is his exclusion from next month's pre-draft media luncheon.
This is like Trump telling Sean Spicer he's still the press secretary but won't be allowed to run the daily press briefing. The draft luncheon has historically been the GM's province, an annual opportunity to engage in a convivial back-and-forth with reporters.
Evidently, the Pegulas want a single voice to speak for the Bills on the major issues from now on. I suppose our chances of getting the Pegulas to talk publicly on Bills matters -- giving Terry an opportunity to say something really wooden -- goes out the window for good.
The voice now belongs to McDermott, who has never been an NFL head coach or the spokesman for an organization, but is being positioned as an all-knowing Bill Belichick-like figure in Buffalo. Bills fans can only hope that the new guy possesses half of Belichick's ability to coach and construct a winning roster.
Barely a year ago, in a transparent attempt to show unity in an embattled organization, the Bills gave Whaley a contract extension. Then, when the Rex Ryan experiment went up in flames, they fell for the first competent football coach who walked through the door and handed McDermott the keys to the kingdom.
The dignified move for Whaley now would be to resign. But why would he quit when he can wait for Kim and Terry Pegula to run him off, adding him to the lengthening scroll of coaches and executives that they've paid not to work?
They should fire Whaley right now and be done with it. Stop the charade that he's still empowered. Put him out of his misery. If this goes on much longer, it'll make their decision to fire Darcy Regier seem hasty and impulsive by comparison.
According to a recent report by CBS' Jason La Canfora, the Whaley-McDermott "marriage" is destined for a breakup. That's hardly a surprise. The wonder is that Whaley is still there. He admitted after Ryan's firing that he was likely to lose some power over personnel decisions to the new coach.
On the day he was hired, McDermott repeatedly said the Pegulas had made him feel "comfortable" about his role in personnel matters. He used the word comfortable so many times, you had to assume he'd been given assurances about his ability to put his personal stamp on the personnel operation.
McDermott said Whaley would still have control over the 53-man roster that day. But recent events, which saw several of Whaley's favorites go out the door and Tyrod Taylor retained as the starting quarterback, made it clear that McDermott's vision is the one driving the operation these days.
The La Canfora story said McDermott is likely to bring in his own executive and personnel types to run personnel. One name that's floating around is Don Gregory, who became the Panthers' director of player personnel last year and could eventually wind up in Buffalo in a similar job.
Presumably, the Bills want to keep Whaley around for the draft, to complete the work he's been doing over the past year or so. But why wait? Considering the mess he's made of this Bills roster, why would it be imperative for Whaley to preside over another draft? Why run another draft with his fingerprints all over it?
The roster is a monument to weak drafting and short-sighted personnel management. At the end of last season, the Bills had fewer of their own draft picks on the roster than any other team. They had 22 unrestricted free agents on March 1. They had precious few "value" players, young stars who are on their first contracts and help balance the roster.
Why entrust Whaley and his crew with another draft? A fan with a bunch of draft guides could have done as well over the last 15 years. When are the scouts going to be held accountable for all those brutal decisions -- like overdrafting the likes of EJ Manuel, Cyrus Kouandjio and Adolphus Washington, or rarely hitting on a pick in the later rounds unless it was a bad actor like Karlos Williams?
Not to mention Whaley's propensity for overpaying people, creating false hope and a financial imbalance that left them unable to make significant additions in free agency this year. The receiver position is a disaster. As Jay Skurski wrote, they're a Watkins injury from Andre Holmes being the No. 1 wideout.
So you can't blame the owners for wanting new blood in personnel, even if they're doing it backwards by hiring the coach first and giving him sway. It would have been wiser to find the football czar and have him build from the top down. But at least they appear to have come around to the realization that Whaley isn't the right guy.
The sooner they get a new personnel department in place, the better. They should take a leaf blower through the building. It's long overdue, like Whaley getting pink slipped. It's puzzling why Pegula keeps him around. Maybe it's because he doesn't want to whack another person to whom he swore allegiance, so soon after firing Ryan.
The Sabres' disappointing performance was Whaley's best friend this winter, deflecting criticism from the football team's shortcomings. But the Sabres are essentially done, the NFL draft is approaching and it's getting hotter at One Bills Drive. Change is here, and Whaley looks like the old furniture.
It seems only a matter of time before Whaley gets moved out. The time might as well be now.
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