The Buffalo Bills Sunday relieved Doug Whaley of his duties as general manager, the team announced shortly after it was reported by The Buffalo News.
The move, which had long been anticipated, was made a day after the three-day NFL Draft.
“After a thorough review of our football operations over the past several months, Kim and I informed Doug this morning that we will be moving in a new direction," Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement. "We have enjoyed working with Doug. He is a good person and we want to thank him for his work and commitment to our football team.
"This was my decision. It was not an easy decision but I believe it’s the right one for the future of the Buffalo Bills. Our search for a new general manager will begin immediately.”
The Bills' entire scouting staff was also expected let go, an NFL source said.
Whaley's firing makes it a clean sweep for the Bills' previous hierarchy since they finished the 2016 season -- before which he received a contract extension -- with a 7-9 record, extending their playoff drought to 17 years. Coach Rex Ryan was dismissed with one game left on the schedule.
The day after the Bills' season-ending loss against the New York Jets, Whaley was the focus of a public-relations disaster when, during a news conference, he insisted he was not "privy" to the reasons behind Ryan's firing.
As soon as the Bills hired Sean McDermott as their coach in January, Whaley, whose record was 30-34 as GM, became a marginalized figure. He last spoke to the media at January's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Since then, McDermott has served as the lone spokesman for the team's entire football operation.
It was clear throughout the draft that it was McDermott's show, reflected with his repeated use of "I" as he explained the team's moves. The coach did go out of his way to give credit to Whaley and the rest of the player-personnel staff. When asked after the Bills' made their final pick Saturday if he would give Whaley a vote of confidence, McDermott said, "Doug and his staff did a phenomenal job."
Whaley, 44, joined the Bills in 2010 as an assistant GM to Buddy Nix. After Nix stepped down as general manager, Whaley took over on May 13, 2013.
His run in the job has been filled with controversial decisions. One of the biggest in which he was involved was the one to make quarterback EJ Manuel a first-round choice, 16th overall, in the 2013 draft. Manuel has since been released and signed by the Oakland Raiders.
Whaley's most controversial move came in 2014, when he decided to trade first- and fourth-round picks to the Cleveland Browns to allow the Bills to move from the ninth overall pick to No. 4 to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Watkins has been injured for most of his NFL career, and the Bills are not expected to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract by the league's May 2 deadline because he is recovering from foot surgery, according to an NFL source.
Whaley's best move was the 2015 trade that sent linebacker Kiko Alonzo to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy has helped the Bills lead the NFL in rushing the past two seasons and made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances.
Among other the highlights of Whaley's time with the Bills were the acquisitions of low-cost but productive free agents: quarterback Tyrod Taylor, guard Richie Incognito, and linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown.
Taylor has started the past two seasons and currently resides at the top of the QB depth chart. After sitting out a season-and-a-half after being suspended for his role in a 2013 bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins, Incognito has emerged as a Pro Bowler and one of the best players on the team.
Last year, Alexander went from a projected role on special teams to the Pro Bowl after taking over for injured rookie Shaq Lawson and finishing tied for third in the NFL with 12.5 sacks. Brown, who ranked second in the league with 149 tackles, joined the Washington Redskins in free agency.
Two of Whaley's better waiver-wire pickups were running back Mike Gillislee (who recently signed with the New England Patriots as a restricted free agent) and receiver/kick-returner Brandon Tate.
Whaley becomes the second GM of the teams owned by Terry and Kim Pegula to be fired in less than two weeks. On April 20, they fired Sabres GM Tim Murray, along with coach Dan Bylsma.