Buddy Nix's career as the general manager of the Buffalo Bills may be remembered most for his inability to properly use a telephone, but Nix's impact on the Bills was far bigger than the one failed phone call.
After spending nine seasons as a scout for the Bills, over two tenures, Nix took over as general manager in 2010. His southern accent and colorful personality made him standout compared to other more constrained general managers, but like his personality, Nix's failures also stood out. Despite leaving the Bills roster with more talent than he found it, Nix will be remembered by many as the man who gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a $59 million contract.
It's hard to call Nix's career as a GM a success, as the Bills went 16-32 under his watch, but it wasn't the colossal failure some make it out to be either. The jury is still out on a few of his biggest moves, so it's a bit early to evaluate his stint as general manager.
With that said, here's a look at some of his best and worst moves.
Drafting C.J. Spiller - One of Nix's first big moves as general manager was using the No. 9 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on running back C.J. Spiller. The move was a surprise at the time, as Buffalo already had Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson at running back, but Spiller has developed into one of the most explosive players in the NFL. Spiller racked up more than 1,700 yards from scrimmage last season and is still just 25 years old. Nix did well in the first round of the draft, as Marcell Dareus and Stephon Gilmore have both developed into starters.
Re-signing Stevie Johnson - Stevie Johnson may not be an elite wide receiver, but he's an adequate No. 1 receiver and Nix did well to lock him up at an under-market rate. Johnson signed a five-year, $36.25 million contract prior to last season. An average salary of $7.25 million may not seem like a bargain, but when comparable players like Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace all signed for more than $11 million per season since, the deal looks good for Buffalo.
Cleaning out the roster - It's not as if Nix took over a powerhouse team and reduced it to a 6-10 team. When he took over the Bills, the roster was a mess. It wasn't long before players like Terrell Owens, Trent Edwards and Aaron Maybin were gone as a part of Nix's attempt to rebuild the roster. He brought in talent through both the draft and free agency, but one of Nix's biggest additions may have come off the field. Nix re-tooled the front office, including the hiring of his likely successor, Doug Whaley. Even though his tenure as GM wasn't long, Nix added stability and structure to the Bills.
Hiring Chan Gailey - One of Nix's first tasks after taking over as GM was to hire a new head coach. The Bills conducted a lengthy search, with Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan among the reported candidates. Instead of making the splash hire, Nix hired Gailey, who went 16-32 in three seasons and was fired following the 2012 campaign. The Bills were 5-2 through seven games in 2011, and Gailey looked like an offensive innovator, but things fell apart from there.
Extending Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract - Early on, Fitzpatrick looked like the perfect quarterback to run Gailey's system, and Nix signed him to a six-year, $59 million deal six games into the 2011 season. The wheels came off not long after, and Fitzpatrick went from a promising above-average starter to a grossly overpaid backup quarterback. The Bills released Fitzpatrick just one season into his extension.
Trading Marshawn Lynch - Lynch had some off-the-field issues in Buffalo, and the Bills had running back depth, but Nix still didn't get much value by trading the then 24-year-old running back. The Bills acquired a fourth-round (Chris Hairston) and sixth-round pick (Tank Carder) for Lynch. Hairston started 15 games over two seasons, while Carder was released in training camp. Lynch, meanwhile, is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards. He ran for 1,590 yards last season, making first-team All-Pro.
Signing Mario Williams - Nix's biggest free agent move was signing defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million deal. Williams recorded 10.5 sacks during his first season in Buffalo, and how he plays over the final five years will go a long way in determining Nix's legacy.
Drafting EJ Manuel - Nix failed to find a long-term starting quarterback during his first three seasons in Buffalo, but he may have done so in one of his final major moves as a GM. The Bills drafted EJ Manuel with the No. 16 pick in the draft. If Manuel becomes an average or better starting quarterback, Nix will have left Buffalo primed for a successful future. If Manuel struggles, it will be Nix's second major gaffe at quarterback.
Hiring Doug Marrone - Hiring Gailey didn't work out for Nix and the Bills, but the verdict is still out on Marrone. Like he did before he hired Gailey, Nix interviewed several big-name candidates before choosing the lesser-known Marrone. If Marrone and Manuel succeed, Nix will have left Buffalo with a head coach and a franchise quarterback. If not, the Bills could be in the market for both in three more seasons.
Nix's tenure as general manger may not have been glamorous, but he took a lot of necessary lumps and laid a lot of groundwork for the Bills. Buffalo has talent, and if the new coaching staff and quarterback pan out, the Bills could be much improved next season and beyond. If, however, the opposite happens, and the Bills are forced to go through another complete overhaul, Nix's tenure may be looked at as much worse than a botched phone call and a bad contract.