Here are my three thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' hiring of Brandon Beane as their general manager:
1. The Bills' front-office overhaul isn't finished. Not by a long shot.
Expect the next big change to happen with the oversight of the salary cap and contract negotiations, areas Jim Overdorf handled since being named senior vice president of football administration in 2008.
Beane spent eight seasons as director of football operations for the Carolina Panthers before being named their assistant GM in 2015. He has a strong background in football finances, and he and coach Sean McDermott want someone of their choosing – someone they know is totally on board with them – to be involved with the critical role of managing the cap and keeping spending in line with their overall roster construction.
The current payroll is, in the eyes of Beane and McDermott and pretty much anyone looking at it through objective eyes, way out of whack. There are ridiculously bloated contracts everywhere that need to be addressed, although not all of the fixing can be done immediately.
Terry Pegula pretty much gave an ominous foreshadowing of Overdorf's future with the Bills when, during his April 30 news conference announcing the firing of Doug Whaley, he said, "Jim Overdorf, we’re going to support him as much as we can, but that decision will be made by the new GM that’s coming into the organization."
2. House-cleanings must be thorough. It's part of the cold, hard reality of the NFL world.
Leaving some pieces in place from a previous regime or previous regimes tends to be a bad idea, because you're creating inevitable clashing of old and new ways of doing things. It's a breeding ground for resentment, with incumbents never completely letting go of their loyalties to those who either hired them or with whom they've became close over the years.
Russ Brandon, the Bills' president and managing partner, is in a very tough spot these days. He has rightfully earned the trust and respect of Terry and Kim Pegula for what he has done with marketing and sales and aligning the money-making components for both the Bills and the Sabres, for whom he also carries the title of president.
However, no one in the Bills' organization was closer with Whaley than Brandon.
It was Brandon who drew up the contract extension that Whaley received after the 2015 season, even when Terry was feeling a great deal of concern about how the Bills had underperformed through the first season of Rex Ryan and was demanding the playoff results that never came in 2016. Brandon was always the biggest champion of his good buddy, "Whales," and was convinced for the longest time Whaley could survive the continued unraveling last season that ultimately led to his and Ryan being jettisoned.
Brandon is also extremely close with Overdorf. It won't be easy for Brandon to see Overdorf moved out of the high-powered role he has long occupied as part of a power structure Brandon was as responsible as anyone for putting together.
Since hiring Ryan in 2015, Terry Pegula, in his few appearances before the media, has been careful to stress that Brandon is on the "business side" of the Bills. Brandon, himself, has told reporters repeatedly through the past couple of years that he is "out of the loop" on football matters and spends the bulk of his time with sponsorships, ticket sales, and all other revenue-generating aspects of the organization.
Still, he has been involved with the football budget, so there is some cross-over. How much wider the distance between Brandon and new two-headed leadership of the Bills becomes will be interesting to watch.
3. Beane's biggest immediate task is putting together a scouting staff.
This is a huge undertaking, but not necessarily as daunting as it might sound. The expectation is that Beane and McDermott will seek mostly young, hungry, up-and-comers who are open to being taught the McDermott-Beane way of identifying talent and the parameters for the types of players they want on their roster.
As has already been made clear through the Bills' free-agent signings and the draft, character will matter. A lot. So will intelligence and a team-first mentality.
It's much easier to teach younger scouts how to do things your way than to re-teach more experienced ones who often are set in their own ways or someone else's way.