The Buffalo Bills announced Monday that 73-year-old Buddy Nix would "step away" from his role as general manager, with assistant GM Doug Whaley expected to inherit the job. Nix will remain with the franchise as a "special assistant."
"I've made this decision to step away from the general manager's position because I feel it is the right time," Nix said in a statement released by the team. "By the 'right time' I mean I think we have a good young roster, an excellent head coach with a good staff, and it's time to let someone else handle these responsibilities and move forward together."
That move comes a little more than two weeks after Buffalo made waves during Round 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft by trading down and then selecting QB E.J. Manuel from Florida State. The timing of Nix's decision (perhaps a forced one) to adjust his responsibilities indicates that Whaley likely played a significant part in the Bills' draft-day dealings.
Nix, however, said as far back as December that "the time's now" for Buffalo to address the QB position via the draft. He reiterated that stance in late April, just prior to the Bills' move for Manuel, telling WGR radio the Bills' "intent sometime during this draft is to get" a franchise quarterback.
Of course, Nix also expressed displeasure with his team's quarterback situation during a call with Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, which was taped by some pranksters.
"We're still struggling here with our quarterback, you know Fitzpatrick," Nix said. "He's going to have to do something, or we'll have to."
The Bills then cut Fitzpatrick, very shortly after that phone call was released to the public.
Buffalo had been grooming Whaley to take over as GM since hiring him in 2010. He has been Nix's right-hand man since then, and the Bills have been mostly successful in recent drafts -- as many as nine or 10 members of their 2011-13 draft classes could be in their starting lineup come Week 1. Nix had never been a GM prior to accepting the Buffalo job before the 2010 season. The Bills posted a 16-32 record during his three years, including a thoroughly disappointing 6-10 mark last season. Chan Gailey was the team's head coach during Nix's entire run as general manager; Whaley, assuming he's given the job, will work through his rookie season alongside new head coach Doug Marrone.