While those teams fortunate enough to make the playoffs took part in the Wild Card round this weekend, the Bills big-wigs were discussing a contract extension for general manager Doug Whaley and came to terms on a deal Sunday afternoon. The news was first made known by Bills’ co-owner Kim Pegula, who tweeted a photo of Terry Pegula, Russ Brandon and Whaley signing the contract.
We have agreed to a contract extension with Doug Whaley! pic.twitter.com/kJUv7VGM7Q
— Kim Pegula (@KimPegula) January 10, 2016
The Pegula’s welcomed Whaley and Brandon to their home in Florida for their annual end of the year meetings to review the 2015 season and look to the season ahead. That is ultimately where the Bills’ ownership decided upon extending Whaley’s current contact, which was set to expire following the 2016 season.
Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but it is expected to be a multi-year extension and likely will align perfectly with the four years that remain on head coach Rex Ryan’s contract. Last off-season Ryan signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal to become the Bills’ head coach through 2019. Adjusting Whaley’s contract to coincide with Ryan’s is ownership’s way of tying their futures to each other, forcing the two to work together in building a Super Bowl contender.
“I am excited about this opportunity Terry and Kim Pegula have given me and my family to continue to work for the Buffalo Bills franchise,” Whaley said after signing his new contract. “I look forward to getting back to work with our owners, Rex Ryan and Russ Brandon and our scouting staff to build a winning team that this tremendous and supportive fan base deserves.”
Earlier last week The Buffalo News reported that after Buffalo’s Week 14 loss to the Washington Redskins, which at the time eliminated the Bills from postseason contention, Pegula met with Ryan and Whaley and offered up an ultimatum to get Buffalo to the postseason in 2016 or risk being fired. Later that day a conflicting report was released about a potential contract extension being in the works for Whaley, which came to fruition today.
Several media outlets have since reported that there never was an ultimatum given to Whaley and that the Pegula’s have always stressed continuity within the front office staff.
Whaley, at age 43 is entering his fourth season as the Bills’ GM. Prior to taking over that role full-time in 2013, he served as the assistant general manager under Buddy Nix for three-years between 2010-12. In his three-years making Buffalo’s personnel decisions, Whaley has been the subject of some heavy criticism especially this past season, where he took some heat for trading away veteran quarterback Matt Cassel to the Dallas Cowboys and most notably when the team parted ways with fan favorite, veteran RB Fred Jackson at the conclusion of training camp. His decision to draft current backup QB E.J. Manuel in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft has also left him with some egg on his face.
However, Whaley can be credited with making some stellar moves that have helped bolster the Bills’ roster as well. In 2014 he chose to swap several draft picks with the Cleveland Browns to move up in the first-round and draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who is a star in the making. This past off-season he pulled the trigger on a deal that brought LeSean McCoy to Buffalo from Philadelphia, on top of signing their current starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, G Richie Incognito and TE Charles Clay. 2015 draftees like CB Ronald Draby and RB Karlos Williams have also helped Whaley’s reputation.
The next challenge for Whaley now becomes building a team primed for the one thing that has eluded him during his tenure in Buffalo – the playoffs.