Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Looking back: Buddy Nix's five biggest misses as Bills GM

Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey
Chan Gailey, right, had his moments, but went 16-32 as the Bills' head coach. (James P. McCoy/News file photo)

By Tim Graham

How will we remember Buddy Nix's tenure as Buffalo Bills general manager? With the help of beat reporter Mark Gaughan, we look back on the past three seasons and four drafts under Nix.

Here are his five biggest misses:

1) Hiring Chan Gailey. When Chan Gailey was hired in January 2010, I wrote, "The Buffalo Bills went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, examined the menu and went with the grilled cheese." That wasn't Gailey's fault, but after weeks of wooing the likes of Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, the Gailey choice was tough to swallow. Gailey had his moments, but went 16-32.

2) Failing to identify long-term quarterback needs. Prior to last month, Nix drafted only one quarterback: 2010 seventh-rounder Levi Brown, who failed to make the team out of training camp. Nix drafted bad cornerback Aaron Williams ahead of playoff quarterback Colin Kaepernick and traded up for receiver T.J. Graham when Russell Wilson was on the board.

3) Ryan Fitzpatrick's 2011 contract extension. In many ways, the Bills were backed into a corner. They were 4-2, had looked impressive and had legitimate playoff hopes when Fitzpatrick got his new deal. He was on the final year of his contract, and if the Bills had made the playoffs, then they would have risked losing a fan favorite (at the time) while owning a late-round pick to draft a quarterback. The money given to Fitzpatrick wasn't the problem, but the deal kept Buffalo from properly addressing the position moving forward.

4) Letting Gailey hire defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. Gailey had control over his coaching staff, but red flags should've been waved over the decision to go from a 4-3 scheme under previous head coach Dick Jauron to a 3-4 under Gailey's first coordinator, George Edwards, and then back to a 4-3 under Wannstedt.

5) Drafting Torell Troup instead of Rob Gronkowski. This entry isn't so much about Troup being a bust as it is about Nix's inability to identify how the evolution of tight ends would impact the NFL.

Honorable mentions: Trading Marshawn Lynch for two draft picks that turned out to be Chris Hairston and Tank Carder; re-signing pass-rusher Shawne Merriman when injured and cutting him when healthy; giving defensive end Chris Kelsay an extension; drafting kickoff specialist John Potter and then cutting him in-season; too many returned phone calls to Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Mark Dominik.


Tim Graham's list of the top 5 Buddy Nix 'hits' as GM | Video: Graham & Mark Gaughan on Buddy Nix's resignation, legacy | Video: Highlights from Nix's news conference | Photo gallery: Nix through the years | Nix's written statement | Jay Skurski's profile of Doug Whaley


Aaron Williams | Buddy Nix | Chan Gailey | Dave Wannstedt | Rob Gronkowski | Shawne Merriman | T.J. Graham | Torell Troup
comments powered by Disqus

About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |