Buddy Nix of the Buffalo Bills is taking on a new role.
After serving as the organization's general manager from 2010 through 2012, Nix will switch gears to become a special assistant, according to the Bills' official Twitter feed:
Buffalo Bills @buffalobills
BREAKING: #Bills GM Buddy Nix will step away from his role as GM and tradition to Special Assistant.5/13/2013, 4:13:07 PM
UPDATE: Thursday, May 16, at 9:08 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
The Buffalo Bills have officially introduced Dough Whaley as general manager. Buddy Nix stated:
'He did a great job of helping to pick players and scouting,' said Bills Special Assistant Buddy Nix. 'He’s a level-headed mature guy and he makes the right decisions. He’s very loyal and will be to the Bills for a long time.'
Buffalo Bills @buffalobills
Doug Whaley greeted season ticket holders in line at One #Bills Drive: "The hope is to have everyone to back in line for playoff tickets!"5/16/2013, 1:09:49 PM
Superstar wide receiver Stevie Johnson tweeted his support of Whaley and his head coach Doug Marrone:
Stevie Johnson @StevieJohnson13
In Doug We Trust. Coach Marone. Now GM Whaley. LetsGoBuffalo!!! @buffalobills5/16/2013, 1:13:28 PM
---End of update---
Tim Graham of the Buffalo News first reported that assistant GM Doug Whaley was expected to become the new GM.
This move does not come as a complete surprise, because with Nix as the general manager, Buffalo only sported a 16-32 record. It is, however, a 180-degree turnaround from the Bills' recent stance on Nix.
Team president Russ Brandon stated on April 27 that Nix would be Buffalo's general manager "for a long time" (via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News):
There’s a lot of speculation for whatever reason related to that. Buddy Nix is our general manager and will be for a long time.
Doug is a vital cog to the process, but when it comes to football decisions in this organization, one person and one person only makes those decisions, and that’s Buddy Nix.
Clearly that was not the case, and the Bills appear headed in a new direction.
Nix's most recent significant roster decision was the selection of Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel in Round 1 of the 2013 NFL draft with Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib still on the board. Nix made it clear that he wanted a franchise quarterback in place before he left, so the hope for Bills fans is that he pegged his man in Manuel.
The reason quarterback was such a big need in Buffalo this year is that the team seemed to have made a costly mistake by extending Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract in October 2011, per Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com:
Chris Mortensen @mortreport
#Bills & QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finalizing new contract today -$59 million over 6 years; $24m guaranteed; $33 million in 1st 3 yrs #NFL3210/28/2011, 5:26:46 PM
Fitzpatrick was subsequently released in March 2013.
Still, Buffalo is left in pretty good shape based on some of Nix's acquisitions, including defensive end Mario Williams, as well as some key players he has drafted, such as defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (2011), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (2012) and wide receiver Robert Woods (2013).
While the Bills' record may not have been great under Nix, the team hopes he has at least helped reshape the roster for the future.
Only making the postseason, though, will provide validity to that, as the Bills haven't appeared in the playoffs since 1999.