Doug Whaley has been the heir apparent to Buddy Nix in Buffalo since joining the Bills in 2010, and now with Nix stepping down, the door for Whaley to become general manager is open. The Bills declined to name him the successor immediately, but Whaley being named the next GM appears to be a matter of when and not if.
So what exactly are the Bills getting in Whaley? For one, the 40-year-old should be prepared for the job as he's been acting as the "co-GM", according to some reports. Whaley has been groomed for this role since he joined Buffalo as the assistant general manager and player-personnel director in 2010. He could have been a candidate for other openings this offseason, but instead agreed to a contract extension with the Bills.
That doesn't, however, mean Whaley is being gifted the job. He paid his dues and worked his way up from a pro personnel assistant and area college scout. After finishing his playing career at Pittsburgh, Whaley spent one season as a retail stockbroker before joining the Steelers as a pro personnel assistant in 1995. He spent three seasons as an East coast area college scout for Seattle before re-joining the Steelers in 1999. Whaley spent 11 years as the pro scouting coordinator in Pittsburgh, where he evaluated current players around the league in addition to college scouting.
Whaley has been in the Bills' long-term plans since joining the organization three months after Nix. Nix, as well as team CEO Russ Brandon, talked about creating a transition plan and keeping Whaley with the Bills long term. While he may have been able to land another general manager job this offseason, Whaley said he joined the franchise with a goal in mind and he wants to see it through.
"I'm a competitor and the challenge," Whaley said in January, via WGRZ 2. "There's nothing that's been promised to me but to give me the resources to do my job and help those guys put this franchise on the right track. And I love a good challenge. That's what I signed up for. And I hope to be here long enough to see it completed.
While Nix made two key moves this offseason in hiring Doug Marrone and drafting EJ Manuel, Whaley was heavily involved in the process. According to Paul Hamilton of WRG 550, Whaley was involved with Nix and Brandon in the coaching search. ESPN's Adam Schefter went as far as to say Whaley will now officially take over a role he's already been doing.
It wasn't just Nix and Brandon who were high on Whaley's future. According to Hamilton, Whaley is well thought of by administrators around the NFL, while Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said he's also well thought of in the scouting community. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll be a successful general manager, but he comes from an excellent background. When the official announcement is made, Whaley will be the third former Pittsburgh pro scouting coordinator to become an NFL president or general manager, joining Tom Donahoe and Tom Modrak.
When Whaley officially takes over as GM remains to be seen. Depending on the language in his contract, the Bills may still need to interview a minority candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday.