General Manager Doug Whaley, whose future with the Buffalo Bills has been the subject of considerable media speculation for much of the season, will have to wait until the offseason to know his long-term fate with the team.
When asked about a potential contract extension for Whaley, a Bills source told The News on Tuesday, “Of course, we won’t discuss those things during the season.”
Whaley was thought to be on his way out last offseason when Bills owner Terry Pegula attempted to hire Bill Polian, the team’s former GM and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to oversee the team’s football operation before hiring coach Rex Ryan.
It’s also known that Whaley was at odds with the coaching staff over his decision early in the year to trade Matt Cassel to Dallas and make EJ Manuel the Bills’ No. 2 quarterback. Manuel’s second-quarter meltdown that led to the Oct. 25 loss against Jacksonville could still very well stand as a defining moment if the Bills miss the playoffs.
Nevertheless, there is plenty that Whaley has going for him.
Steadily improving starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was a clear free-agent choice of Ryan’s. But Whaley does get credit for the free-agent signing of perhaps the Bills’ best player, guard Richie Incognito, as well as the trade that sent injured linebacker Kiko Alonso the Philadelphia Eagles for running back LeSean McCoy, who has come into his own with three 112-yard performances in his last five games.
Whaley’s gamble on giving up two first-round picks to make wide receiver Sammy Watkins the fourth overall pick of the 2014 draft is finally starting to pay big dividends. Whaley also has received high marks for the Bills’ 2015 draft, which produced cornerback Ronald Darby, the odds-on favorite to become NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; a starting guard in John Miller, and a solid running back in Karlos Williams.
Additionally, Whaley’s big hits include Jerry Hughes, acquired from Indianapolis in 2013 for Kelvin Sheppard; ’14 third-round linebacker Preston Brown; punter Colton Schmidt, signed as a free agent in ’14, and dependable veteran cornerback-turned-safety Corey Graham, also signed as a free agent last year.
However, Whaley has had some notable misses, beginning with 2013 first-round choice Manuel. In addition, there has been 2014 second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio, who hasn’t even been able to provide dependable backup help on the offensive line, and 2013 third-rounder Marquise Goodwin, who has contributed little at wide receiver and struggled to stay healthy.
Percy Harvin, a free-agent wide receiver who has failed to stay healthy, is another miss, although Ryan had a big say in his acquisition as well.