After Buddy Nix Transition, What Lies Ahead for Bills Franchise?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMay 13, 2013

Apr 26, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix on the field at the press conference for first round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel (not pictured) at Ralph Wilson Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like the Buffalo Bills saved their biggest front office shake-up for the slowest period in the NFL offseason.

General manager Buddy Nix announced on Monday morning that he would be stepping down as the GM and transitioning to a role as an assistant (via the Bills official Twitter account).

Buffalo Bills @buffalobills

#Bills GM Buddy Nix will step away from his role as GM and transition to Special Assistant. Press conference from One Bills Drive today.

It was reported months ago that assistant general manager Doug Whaley would have an increased role within the organization, though that has not yet been confirmed by the team. Nix will still be involved but in a lesser capacity as an assistant. That will be music to some Bills fans' ears.

So, what will change with Nix stepping into a lesser role and, presumably, Whaley stepping in as GM? Probably not much, to be frank. Whaley has learned under Nix, so he will probably carry similar philosophies as a general manager. Likewise, Nix's presence—and thereby, his influence—will still be felt around Orchard Park, as he will still be an assistant.

During the majority of Nix's tenure, the Bills took to building through the draft. It was the formula when Nix was with the Chargers, and 15 of the Bills' 22 starters in 2012 were acquired by the Bills through the draft or undrafted free agency.

Only in 2012 did the Bills finally become big players in the free-agency market, signing both defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson to lucrative deals—six years, $96 million for Williams; four years, $19.5 million for Anderson. That was after they re-signed a couple of key players they had drafted in recent years in running back Fred Jackson and wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

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The Nix era in Buffalo has not been greatly successful, as evidenced by their 16-32 record in his three years as GM—the fourth-worst record in the NFL in that span. He will forever be remembered for "going to bed" at the start of the 2010 free-agency period. Immediately following that, the 2010 draft was a categoric failure, producing just one quality player in nine picks. 

The six-year, $59 million contract extension for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick probably ranks among the top five worst signings of the past decade.

All that being said, Nix's reign was not entirely a failure, either. 

Buffalo Bills @buffalobills

Nix: "I've made the decision to step away as GM because I feel it's the right time ... good young roster with excellent head coach & staff"

Since Nix joined the Bills as a scout in 2009, the team has added safety Jairus Byrd, center Eric Wood, running back C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn.

He leaves the team with a lot of unknowns, though, including the biggest ones: head coach and quarterback. The future of the franchise, right now, lies in the hands of Doug Marrone and EJ Manuel at those respective spots. Nix had a hand in selecting both of those people.

As such, in many ways—for better or worse—the future of the Bills franchise is still indelibly tied to Nix, even as much as the past three years have been.

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.comFollow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from the Sports-Reference.com network, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.

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