The 2015 Buffalo Bills are 100% committed to getting into the playoffs, and the recent acquisitions of LeSean McCoy & Matt Cassel only cement that fact. Most media members are pointing out that the Bills are doing all they can and Head Coach Rex Ryan is behind all of the recent movement, but the reality is that these moves are probably all a result of GM Doug Whaley.
Within two years of being elevated to the GM position, Whaley has started to earn a reputation as a mover and shaker within NFL circles. He has boldly made trades and signing that no one saw coming. It started with the drafting of EJ Manuel (though Buddy Nix was still technically the GM) over Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, and it carried from there with the trading of Kelvin Sheppard for Jerry Hughes, the trading up to select Sammy Watkins, and the surprise signing of Kyle Orton after training camp last year.
He has been unafraid to make a decision that seems unfavorable at first, only for things to pan out over time. The two recent trades only play into that as Whaley took a surplus of talent at one position, and upgraded a need in the trade for McCoy, and the addition of Cassel was the best option available considering the barren landscape that was the free agent QB market.
All of these transactions are obviously designed to help Ryan win this year, and surely Ryan would have to give his approval on each move, but Whaley is the first person that has to entertain these offers and thus far has been given full authority from the Pegula’s (and Brandon before that) to make any deal necessary to win.
In spite of all the excitement that Whaley has drummed up he needs to start slowing down and balancing future potential with the present. With the free agency period open within the week Whaley quickly retained Jerry Hughes and is working on a contract to pry tight end Charles Clay away from the Miami Dolphins.
Through all of Whaley’s moves he has yet to hit a complete dud. He’s received incomplete grades from Manuel and Orton as they performed, but not to the level required. He went on to hit the jackpot in trading for Hughes and up in the draft for Watkins despite the loss of a first round pick, and this recent flurry of activity could lead to more mixed results.
It’s been refreshing to see the team be aggressive in its pursuit of a playoff bound season and overall winning culture, but if Whaley keeps pushing the limit it’s bound to blow up in his face. He has yet to hit the mark on a quarterback, which is far more urgent than any other move, but he’s been able to hit home runs on all other positions.
As currently constructed the Bills will once again be a threat to make the playoffs, or at minimum having another winning season, but minus a giant leap in play by either Manuel or Cassel this could be the final bold move for Whaley as a Buffalo Bills employee.