Bills promote Pittsburgh native and former Steelers’ exec Whaley to GM

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Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley, center, team president Russ Brandon, left, and head coach Doug Marrone, right, stand outside Ralph Wilson Stadium after the press conference announcing Whaley’s appointment to his new position, in Orchard Park, N.Y., May 16. (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Mark Mulville)

 

In becoming the Bills’ 12th GM and fifth in 12 years, Whaley’s challenge now becomes turning around a franchise that has not finished with a winning record since 2004, and has not made the playoffs in 13 years — the NFL’s longest active drought.

“We’re not going to run from (the past), but what we’re going to do is look forward,” Whaley said. “We are very proud of what we’ve got as a team, as a coaching staff and as an organization. And we’re just looking to go onward and upward.”

And he wasn’t afraid of using the word “championship.”

“Our main goal is to give the fans of the Buffalo Bills a team that consistently competes for championships,” Whaley said.

Though it was unclear when Nix would step down, the Bills began laying the groundwork for the transition in February by signing Whaley to a long-term contract extension.

“Doug has every quality you look for in a leader,” team president Russ Brandon said. “We’re committed to one common goal and that is one focus, a laser focus, and that is winning. Period. Nothing else matters to either one of us. Winning is what it’s all about.”

Among Whaley’s first priorities will be negotiating to sign star safety Jairus Byrd. Though the Bills secured Byrd’s rights by placing a franchise tag on him this offseason, the player has yet to sign his contract.

Byrd is instead holding out in a bid to secure a long-term deal.

“He’s a good player. We want to keep him, and we’re going to negotiate with him,” Whaley said. “Hopefully, everything will be where we need it to be, when we need it to be.”

He’s also preparing to open talks in a bid to re-sign center Eric Wood, who is entering the final year of his contract.

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