Inside The Bills

Offer to be made to Byrd, Carpenter

Posted by Chris Brown on December 30, 2013 – 5:58 pm

Bills GM Doug Whaley said they intend to pursue some of their own free agents vigorously between now and the start of free agency. Chief among them Jairus Byrd and kicker Dan Carpenter.

“We’re going to leave all options on the table. We had a conversation myself and Russ (Brandon) sat and talked to Jairus and we’re going to make an offer to the guy,” said Whaley. “We’re going to try to keep him to the best of our ability. We’re in the business of collecting good players and he’s a good player.”

When asked if making use of the franchise tag could happen again, Whaley did not rule it out.

“That’s always an option,” said Whaley. “We’re not going to back ourselves into a corner and eliminate any possibility of trying to retain a good player.”

Dan Carpenter, who tied a team record with 33 field goals made (Steve Christie, 1998), said he’s keeping his options open, but Whaley made it clear he too will try to be re-signed.

“Absolutely,” Whaley said. “Russ (Brandon) and I talked to him and we’re going to reach out to his agents pretty soon and see if we can try and get something done.”

Whaley also said they intend to present Brian Moorman with an offer too.


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Bills only focused on supporting Stevie

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2013 – 10:44 am

After losing his mother, who passed unexpectedly over the weekend, Stevie Johnson’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is undetermined. Head coach Doug Marrone may shed some light on the receiver’s situation in his Wednesday press conference this afternoon, but Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did confirm one thing concerning Johnson.

In his weekly radio appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said that the team will provide Johnson with any means of support that he or his family might need this week.

“We’ve been in communication with him since Saturday evening,” said Brandon. “What he’s dealing with is a very difficult situation. It’s a private thing for him. I can’t anticipate what’s going to happen on Sunday. My only focus is on making sure we support him and his family and take care of him in any possible way that we can.”

 


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Brandon: Miami game to be blacked out

Posted by Chris Brown on December 18, 2013 – 10:14 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday was up front in admitting that they will not be able to beat the blackout deadline of Thursday at 1 pm and sell out Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.

“We won’t meet the sellout,” said Brandon. “The game will be blacked out, but we will have a good crowd there and they’ll be boisterous for sure. Everyone always gets a little extra amped up when the Dolphins come to town. We’ll be ready and I know the fans will be ready and we’d love to knock them off their playoff perch.”

Brandon said there are about 16,000 tickets left for Sunday’s game. This is the first TV blackout of the season for Buffalo.


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Brandon to evaluate Toronto Series

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 10:26 am

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Bills President and CEO was asked several questions about the viability and prudence of the team’s Toronto Series, in which they play one regular season home game north of the border every year at the Rogers Centre. Brandon made it clear that he’s evaluating that along with a host of other aspects and ventures of the organization in this his first year of running the franchise’s day-to-day operations.

“One of the things I said to the fans on January 1st of this past year was that I was going to review every phase of this operation and this series comes within that framework,” Brandon said. “There’s a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means and I’m going to look at it very closely because, what’s good for business, obviously Toronto has been positive for us down here. We’ve had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there and certainly has not translated in to enough wins for us there. As I mentioned almost a year ago, we’re going to look at everything and this will be within something I look at.”

Brandon was also asked if he was staying true to his position that the organization’s most important goal is winning, knowing the struggle it has been to win games in Toronto with the team now 1-5 in games played at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s also about being viable and that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about for many years here,” he said. “Look at it from the standpoint of where we’ve been on the ticket side. We’ve taken the game out of the market which essentially has taken 70,000 seats out of the market and have truly only sold out two of our home games. We’ve manufactured sell-outs in the other four or five. We’re trying to find ways to obviously keep this franchise viable which we’ve done a very good job at and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on January 1st, I said that was the number one focus and that will be the number one focus. That’s one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.”


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Bills addressed bye week opponents with NFL

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:35 am

As we reported this past summer, the NFL schedule for 2013 scheduled six games for the Bills, three within their own division, in which their opponent would come off extra rest via a Thursday night game the week prior or a bye week. It was the highest total in the league, with Atlanta the only other team close in number with four. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said he has brought issue up to the NFL and their schedule makers knowing the advantage it can provide to both players and coaches.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said the scheduling disadvantage Buffalo has experienced this season has been effectively communicated to the league.

“We certainly have talked to the league about this because it’s been disappointing where teams are coming off a bye or a long week,” said Brandon. “This (Sunday) is the second time we’re playing the Jets coming off a Thursday night game and now we’re playing them coming off a bye. We lead the league in amount of games coming off of extra time or a bye week. It is a very, very tough job what they have in scheduling with all the different things that go into the formula and the stadium commitments and TV schedules, but it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed.”

 


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Ticket situation for Sunday’s Jets game

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:18 am

There’s still a good number of tickets left for Sunday’s home game against the Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon provided an approximate number this morning.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said the number of tickets left won’t make a sellout before the blackout deadline of Thursday a 1 pm easy.

“We’ve got 4,500 tickets left,” he said. “We are in an all out sales blitz to sell as many tickets as we possibly can. We had some decent sales movement on tickets. This is a great game for us because this is Salute to Service month and a celebration where we get to honor all the men and women who serve this great country. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to certainly do everything in our power to get this game sold out.”

When asked if the club will petition the league for a 24-hour extension to a deadline of 1 pm Friday, Brandon said that will hinge on how many tickets move today (Wednesday).

“It depends where we are at the conclusion of today heading into tomorrow,” said Brandon. “If it presents an opportunity to help us sell the game out we will do that.”


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The evaluation of EJ moving forward

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:12 am

The Bills made EJ Manuel their number one draft choice for a reason. As Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said in his weekly radio appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 said, it’s because “we believe he’s the guy.” So how will the organization move through the evaluation process and how long might it last before they definitively determine that he is in fact ‘the guy.’ Brandon offered the following answer.

With EJ he’s started and finished five games. Let’s keep him on the field,” said Brandon. “He’s 23-years old. He’s seeing things for the first time in this league. We all know that it’s different from college. So I’m excited about keeping him on the field and see where his growth is by the end of the year.

“We were very pleased with where he was heading before he was injured in Cleveland. Last week was not his best effort or from any of us. But I think that’s where we have to go to see how he progresses along, with his full complement of players as well. Marquise wasn’t in for much of the first four games of the year. Robert Woods was out in Pittsburgh. Stevie was out for most of the Cleveland game. We’d like to see him with his full complement of players as well.”


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Brandon doesn’t see any hangover effect

Posted by Chris Brown on November 13, 2013 – 10:09 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning and was asked if he’s witnessed a hangover effect from the disappointing loss at Pittsburgh last week with the players and coaches.

While Brandon admitted that it was a game where he felt they “didn’t finish in any phase of the game,” he said he hasn’t seen any hanging heads at all this week at One Bills Drive.

“Not at all,” said Brandon. “I really don’t. I think our guys have come in and they’re ready to play and they get ready for the work week. I like how this group approaches everything, especially coach Marrone and the staff. I know the guys are excited about being home to play the Jets. I’m anticipating that we’re going to bounce back.”

 


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Jets home game ticket update

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 9:53 am

The week following this weekend’s Bills game in Pittsburgh, Buffalo hosts the Jets for a 1 pm kickoff on Nov. 17th. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon provided an update on tickets remaining.

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportradio 550, Brandon said they’ve got some selling to do.

“We’re about 7,000 (tickets) left for the Jets so we’ve made an impact over the last 10 days,” he said. “So we’re going to keep selling and hopefully get that game on TV and the experience over here at the stadium has been tremendous with all the changes we’ve made to help our fans enjoy the experience. We certainly hope that we get that game done and sold out.”

Fans can call 1-877-BB-TICKS or go to Buffalobills.com to order tickets for the Jets game.


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Brandon: EJ should be ready to go Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2013 – 9:41 am

Bills President and CEO in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 was asked about the likelihood of EJ Manuel playing this Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Brandon said team medical director Dr. John Marzo cleared Manuel and that the Bills starting QB is full go for practice today.

“He’s been rehabbing. Last week it was really ramped up as coach Marrone said,” said Brandon. “He responded very well and we anticipate that he will continue to respond well to a full workload of practice. As that goes on each and every day, coach Marrone will evaluate his progress along with coach Hackett and if he’s ready to roll on Sunday he’ll get the green light.

“Unless he has any type of setback through the course of practice he should be ready to go on Sunday.”

We’ll have practice updates here on Buffalobills.com this afternoon.


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Brandon: EJ hopefully back “next month or so”

Posted by Chris Brown on October 16, 2013 – 9:36 am

It wasn’t an official timetable by any means, but Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did hint at a loose period of time when Manuel might be able to return from his knee injury.

“He’s here constantly going through the rehab process with our training staff,” said Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “Hopefully he’ll continue to progress. I don’t have a timetable at this point, but hopefully we can get EJ back on the field as soon as possible. I know that’s what he wants too. Coach (Marrone) will address it later today. Hopefully we’ll have him back in the next month or so.”

Bills head coach Doug Marrone is scheduled to address the media at 2 pm.

 


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Brandon refutes open trade talks on Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on October 9, 2013 – 9:26 am

Bills S Jairus Byrd is expected to be in the lineup on Sunday against the Bengals. A recent report however, described the organization being open to talks about trading the Pro Bowl safety. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted that report.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this week that the Bills are open to trading Jairus Byrd after being unwilling to do so earlier this season. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29th.

When asked about the report in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 Wednesday morning, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted the report and said the organization’s position has not changed.

“I don’t know where these reports come from,” said Brandon. “It’s no different than what we talked about before. Our focus is getting JB back on the field and hopefully that will be this week. We are not actively seeking a deal. It’s not a topic of conversation in our building.”

When asked if moving Byrd would be ruled out if propositioned by another team Brandon answered generally.

“It’s the same thing I’ve always said, when someone calls us we’ll pick up the phone and answer it relative to any subject relative to our peers in the league,” said Brandon. “So I wouldn’t rule out picking up the phone.”

 

 


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Brandon: No trade request came from Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 11:09 am

Last week safety Jairus Byrd appeared surprised by reports that he had requested a trade following an offseason in which he and the Bills could not reach a long term contract agreement prior to the franchise player deadline of July 15th. On Wednesday morning, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon refuted reports of a trade request.

Appearing on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Brandon said a trade request has not been made by Byrd.

“There was no trade request,” said Brandon. “That isn’t even a topic of conversation in this building.”

When asked if the team would even consider a deal for Byrd if they were approached by another club, Brandon didn’t completely dismiss the idea, but made it clear that moving Byrd off the roster is not in their plans.

“You always listen to anything from your fellow clubs, but that is not in our topic of conversation in our building right now,” said Brandon. “Our focus is seeing (Byrd) get back on the field.”

Brandon’s comments about Byrd ran in concert with those of head coach Doug Marrone, who has praised the safety’s approach on the field despite the disappointment of not reaching a long-term contract agreement with Buffalo.

“He’s the exact same guy he’s always been,” Brandon said. “Is he disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement? Absolutely and we are as well. But that’s the business part that we don’t even like talking about. When it comes to the football end and the team end, he’s a great professional and a great teammate. J.B. has been nothing but a professional from the day he walked in the building and continues to do so.”

The team’s chief executive also reiterated that the organization’s goal remains the same as it did in the summer, to sign Byrd to a long-term extension. By league rule that cannot happen until after the regular season.

“We’re disappointed that we weren’t able to come to an agreement,” he said. “We worked hard to try to get him locked in long term. It didn’t happen, but he’s here and he’s on our team. When the opportunity arises and we can get into those discussions again we will go down the exact same path and try to get J.B. locked in.”


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1,600 tickets left for Sunday’s game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 11, 2013 – 10:05 am

The Bills Week 2 matchup with Carolina on Sunday still has tickets available. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon laid out the numbers and plan for this week with the blackout deadline approaching on Thursday at 1 pm.

“We do have some tickets to move,” said Brandon, who appeared on the Howard Simon show on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. “We have about 1,600 tickets left remaining for the game. The deadline is Thursday at 1 pm. Tickets are moving and we’re confident we’ll be able to get the game sold out.”

When asked if the team would buy out the remaining tickets to make it a sellout to get the game televised, Brandon said that won’t happen.

“No, the plan is to sell every ticket we can,” he said. “Our fans have done a great job stepping up, but we need to move through these tickets. We’ll be selling right through kickoff because we will have some visiting (team ticket) returns probably on Friday and Saturday. So we’ll have tickets right up to kickoff.”

When asked how confident he is in getting the game on TV, Brandon believes it will happen.

“I’m fairly confident,” he said. “Actually I’m more than fairly confident. I think we’ll get it done. The sales staff is doing an excellent job and the fans have done a good job the first couple of days this week and we’ve got a lot going on with the Wall of Fame ceremony Sunday as well.”

 


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Fan Friday 8-23

Posted by Chris Brown on August 23, 2013 – 11:48 am

Camp is over and the third preseason game, the most important for the starters is the next on the docket. Now to your questions from AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 - Chris –

Thanks for keeping us updated daily with what we hope is a little bit of inside information.  I have a question about the management structure in the front office.  Over the past three years Buddy Nix made no bones about the fact he did not negotiate contracts — that was the exclusive bailiwick of Jim Overdorf, who presumably got his marching orders from Mr. Wilson.

With Russ Brandon taking over as President and Doug Whaley assuming GM duties, is this still the mode of operation?  Does Doug as GM have any authority to say “I want this guy” to get a deal done, or is he beholden to the number Overdorf (who reports to Brandon) says is the Bills’ top dollar?  Does Overdorf have any obligation to take the sides’ respective “final positions” to (preferably) Whaley or (probably) Brandon for a final decision?

Personally, I like the stance Buffalo took with respect to the Byrd situation, but I’m curious as to who has the final say in contract negotiations.

Appreciate any insight you can provide.
Thanks again and Go Bills!

Eric Haase
Season Ticket Holder since 1990

CB: As Doug Whaley outlined the other day in a radio interview Jim Overdorf, the Senior VP of Football Administration takes the lead on contract negotiations. He keeps Whaley and Russ Brandon in the loop on developments and consults with them on the state or direction of negotiations.

I don’t know this for sure and Whaley did not spell it out, but I think going into the negotiation all parties involved in the Bills front office know where the line is on a specific contract, so I don’t believe the checking back with decision makers needs to happen. I think the line is drawn in the sand with respect to their budget beforehand.

2 – What’s up Chris

I have a question about the usage of E.J Manuel in year 1. If he doesn’t win the job out right do you think that Nate Hackett will install a package for him so he can get some game experience and slowly work him into the starting role. Or do you see him doing more of the holding the clip board work.

Brian in South Carolina

CB: I think this QB competition is an all or nothing thing. You’re either the starter or you’re not. So if Kolb moves forward as the starter whether by earning it or due to Manuel’s injury, I’m not sure they switch things for a series or two just to get EJ some exposure.

 

3 – Chris, camp is coming up, very quick. I am very excited!

I noticed a parallel between the way Zimmer in Cincinnati uses hybrid linebackers (Maualuga), the way Pettine is starting to with us. I believe the two systems will have a lot of similarities in disguising looks, etc. Do you see the same and also, think that is becoming a trend in 3-4 schemes? What is your opinion of hybrids or twiners, in general?

Thank you for your excellent coverage over the years. The fans appreciate it.
Nick

CB: The similiarities are not by accident. Marvin Lewis and Pettine were both schooled under aggressive 3-4 defensive principles. Lewis in Pittsburgh under Bill Cowher and Pettine in Baltimore under Rex Ryan. Zimmer first learned the 3-4 defense under Bill Parcells. Both have morphed into hybrid-front schemes. Disguising looks is more effective when you have hybrid players because the opposing offense cannot identify whether a certain player is a linebacker or a safety (e.g. Bryan Scott), or a DE or an OLB (e.g. Jerry Hughes). As Pettine has said himself, versatility is the strength of his defense. I would imagine Mike Zimmer feels the same.

 

4 – Hi Chris. Thanks for all the information you provide for Bills fans that live outside Western NY. I have always enjoyed reading all your posts. My question is:

With the Bills analytics dept using GPS to better monitor performances during practice, how will they measure these same variables when it comes to full contact games? Are the players allowed to wear these devices during games, or will they only be used during practice? As the season progresses I would imagine that analyzing data from each game from each player might help training staff find potential for injuries and keep them out a couple days of Practice that next week to give them time to recover before they go out and hurt themselves in a practice or other setting.  Thanks again for all the info you provide.

Larry in Tucson

CB: Unfortunately as it’s been explained to me the NFL prohibits GPS tracking devices to monitor performance in games. You’re right they would certainly help in matching the data to the results, or determine based on player load whether resting them is warranted. We already saw an example of that in training camp when Kiko Alonso was held out of the Minnesota game and a couple of practices because his player load was through the roof.

5 – Hey Chris,
Appreciate all the work you do and insight you provide. I remember Stevie saying at one point that under Chan Gailey the receivers were able to have some freedom with running their routes just as long as they got to their spot at the right time. I was curious if Doug Marrone will still allow Stevie to run his routes as he has been.  I feel like Stevie has a unique skill set with the way he gets open and shakes defenders. I see the other receivers gearing towards running more quick crisp routes which matches their skills. I’m hoping the staff does recognize Stevie’s abilities and can get creative with him. I was curious of your thoughts or if you had any insight regarding Stevie and how he fits in their offensive plans. I’m really looking forward to his season. It’s about time he gains some respect around the league. One last thing do you know if the Bills are sticking with the blue away pants this year?

Thanks for your time, Jillian CT

CB: Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett shed a little light on this subject. He and receivers coach Ike Hilliard have reined Johnson in a bit in some areas with his improvisational route running. Hackett emphasized the timing of the quarterback’s footwork with the precision of the route as the reason why.

Johnson will still have opportunities to go with the ‘herky jerk’ as he calls it, he just won’t make use of it as often.


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Brandon on camp Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2013 – 8:06 pm

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon has overseen every training camp at St. John Fisher. He was asked what stood out about the first training camp under new head coach Doug Marrone.

“Accountability, attention to detail and obviously the energy, I know that a lot has been talked about that, but it’s not just on the field. It’s translated to everything we do here within the organization and I think we’ve had a very good camp,” said Brandon. “Fisher has done a tremendous job hosting us and our fans have been great. We’ve had great attendance here over the last month and we’re looking forward to seeing everybody at Ralph Wilson Stadium.”


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Brandon on Byrd

Posted by Chris Brown on August 21, 2013 – 11:52 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon commented on the signing of Jairus Byrd late Tuesday, and there’s no change in the team’s approach to get Byrd locked up long term once the regular season concludes.

“We’re thrilled to have Jairus back,” said Brandon. “I look forward to seeing him. He’s had a couple of great years for us and we’re looking forward to him having another great year.”

The Bills and the Byrd camp were able to see eye to eye on a long term contract extension prior to the July 15th deadline, but it never got acrimonious between the two sides. That’s why Brandon is confident a long term pact can be brokered once it is permissible at season’s end.

“As I said from day one there’s nothing personal in this at all,” said Brandon. “He’s a great Bill. We weren’t able to come to an agreement before the July 15th deadline, but as soon as we can go back to work on that our goal is to have Jairus here long term.”


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New stadium feasibility premature per Brandon

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 10:48 am

In the wake of the new lease agreement between the Bills, Erie County and New York State was the language contained within it that talked of conducting studies and exploring the feasibility of a new stadium for the team. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon was asked if there were any developments on that front. Here was his response.

“Our focus right now is completely on the renovation, but as part of the (Memorandum of Understanding) and the
lease moving forward we will work hand in hand with the Governor’s office and the county on doing studies down the road to see if the stadium situation needs to be altered in any capacity,” said Brandon in an appearance on the Howard Simon show. “When we went through this past renovation we considered new stadium, retro fit, renovation and the renovation process was the route we took. But I think the nice thing about the lease agreement is there are caveats in that which will give us an opportunity with whatever needs to be done in the future.”

Renovations on Ralph Wilson Stadium have already begun, with the initial work focused on the “bones” of the stadium with structural repair and improvements.


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Brandon: Mr. Wilson excited for 2013

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 10:14 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made an appearance on the Howard Simon show Monday morning on Bills’ flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. He was asked for an update on how Mr. Wilson is doing.

Brandon said the Bills Hall of Fame owner is glad the doldrums of early July are over and football is up and running again.

“I talk to him every day. He’s doing fantastic,” said Brandon. “He’s excited for the start of camp. He’s really doing outstanding.”

 

 

 


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A peek into Bills front office structure

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2013 – 11:37 am

NFL.com’s Albert Breer took the time to breakdown the hierarchy of each NFL front office. Who makes the decisions in what areas of the franchise, who answers to who and who has final say? It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the different power structures in the league.

Here is an interesting, though not surprising look at Buffalo’s new front office structure with President & CEO Russ Brandon now handling day-to-day control and Doug Whaley as GM.

The most interesting part of the breakdown was the opinion of an anonymous NFC executive on Buffalo’s new front office hierarchy.


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