Last year, the Buffalo Bills came teasingly close to ending a postseason drought that extends all the way back to the stone ages of the 20th century. To the dark days when you'd probably be reading this on America Online.
Don't lie. You just heard that dial-up cacophony.
After the team came up just short in 2015, Bills owner Terry Pegula issued an ultimatum to general manager Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan: Make the playoffs for the first time since 1999 or suffer the consequences.
On Tuesday, Whaley took yet another step toward ensuring both he and Ryan still have a job at this time next year.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted, the Bills agreed to terms on a five-year, $65 million extension with offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who was set to play 2016 under the franchise tag. The deal includes $36 million in guarantees:
The pact drew kudos from teammate Richie Incognito:
And fellow O-lineman Eric Wood:
From a football standpoint, it isn't hard to see why the Bills did this deal. Glenn's No. 9 ranking among offensive tackles at Pro Football Focus in 2015 was a career high. The 26-year-old has ranked inside the top 25 at his position in each of the past three years.
The 6'6", 345-pound road-grader allowed only two sacks in 1,079 snaps last season. He's also been durable, making every start on the blind side for the Bills since November 2012.
Glenn's an outstanding, reliable performer at the most important position on the offensive line, and he is just now entering the prime of his career. Successful NFL teams do not let such players get away.
Yes, it wasn't as if Glenn was going anywhere after the Bills tagged him. But now Buffalo doesn't have to worry about the possibility of a disgruntled Glenn skipping workouts in the hopes of landing his big payday.
And it's most certainly a big payday. Per Spotrac, only Trent Williams of the Washington Redskins has a higher average annual salary among left tackles. But three other tackles make in excess of $11 million per season, and one of those players (gold standard Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns) inked his deal all the way back in 2011.
In addition to making Glenn a happy man, this contract sends a message to other young standard-bearers on the team like cornerback Stephon Gilmore and quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who are both entering the final year of their deals (per Sal Maiorana if the Buffalo News, the third-year of Taylor's contract was voided when he exceeded certain playing time incentives last season).
Do right by the Bills, and the Bills will do right by you.
Whaley told WGR Sports Radio 550 in Buffalo (per Chris Brown of the team's website) that the team had every intention of keeping its young core intact:
We’re going to try to work as diligently as possible to get all three of those guys (extended). This is where we want to get to. Have good players on our team and then keep them instead of going out into free agency. We’d like to use free agency for the value guys. So when you have potential stars that we’ve drafted or acquired and they’re on our roster now, why not throw the money at those guys?
One day after making that statement, Whaley put the Bills' money where his mouth was.
It continues what's been a very good week in Western New York. Buffalo's draft haul, which was top-heavy with players who will bolster a front seven that underperformed in a big way in 2015, has been positively received.
In fact, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com wrote that the big winner from the Bills' draft wasn't a player at all. It was the Bills' beleaguered brain trust:
Buffalo's general manager and head coach were facing some heat by the end of last season. Why? Whaley's roster did not perform to the level many expected after their big spending last offseason, and Ryan's defense fell well short of where the talented group finished in 2014. The speculation about their futures was so fierce that owner Terry Pegula had to release a statement confirming that both of his top decision makers would be back in 2016. With little salary-cap space, Whaley wasn't able to improve his roster through free agency, which placed further importance on this draft to take some pressure off him. He hit a home run, and in doing so Whaley provided Ryan with some of the draft's best defensive prospects. The Bills still have plenty of work to do on the field this fall, but the public mood around the team has noticeably improved since late December.
Now Whaley has removed the biggest remaining question mark looming over the team by locking Glenn up.
With due respect to Taylor and Gilmore—and even given how difficult quarterbacks can be to replace in the NFL—the last thing the Bills needed was their big man looking for bigger bucks on the open market next year. Or a surly Glenn pouting his way through OTAs and training camp.
He's all smiles now, no doubt.
Whaley wasn't a man who appeared to be living under any illusions when he spoke to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News after Pegula's ultimatum back in January.
"The only thing I expect to do, as every day, (is) come in here and try to get better," he said. "I mean, that stuff, I'll leave to [president Russ Brandon] and the ownership. I just know that every day I've come in here, I've had positive feedback from the Pegulas."
Whaley's done his part. He procured reinforcements for the front seven and locked up arguably the team's most important player in Glenn. He's given Ryan a squad that, on paper, should at least be in the thick of the AFC's wild-card hunt.
Now if the pair are to keep their jobs, it's up to the bombastic coach to hold up his end.
Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.