Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula has given General Manager Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan a year to turn the team around on the way to its disappointing 8-8 finish, The Buffalo News has learned.
A team source told The News that Pegula met with Whaley and Ryan about a week ago, prior to the end of the season, to review the season up to that point and look ahead.
During the meeting, the source said, Pegula gave Whaley and Ryan an ultimatum: make the necessary fixes to get the team into the playoffs in the 2016 season or be fired.
Whaley is known to have a year remaining on his contract, while Ryan has four years left on a deal that guarantees him to be paid $27.5 million. The News also is reporting that the Bills are working on a contract extension with Whaley.
Last week, Pegula issued a statement that effectively served as a vote of confidence for Whaley and Ryan, but offered no specific timetable. After establishing that "our expectations were not met," Pegula went onto say, "Bills co-owner and Pegula's wife) Kim, (team managing partner/president) Russ (Brandon) and I look forward to working and collaborating with Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan in forming a winning future for the organization. Our management team and coaching staff are very capable and work well together. This stable foundation is necessary to achieve long-term success in the NFL."
When asked during Monday's season-ending news conference if he expected to receive a contract extension, Whaley said, "The only thing I expect to do, as every day, (is) come in here and try to get better. I mean, that stuff, I'll leave to Russ and the ownership. I just know that every day I've come in here, I've had positive feedback from the Pegulas."
Whaley said he didn't need a vote of confidence, because he has "daily dealings" with Terry Pegula.
In early December, another team source, answering a question about a potential contract extension for Whaley, told The News, "Of course we don't discuss those things during the season."
Meanwhile, Ryan is meeting with his assistant coaches Tuesday. On Monday, Ryan wouldn't say whether he planned to retain all of his assistants, but a source said two and possibly as many as three changes could be made. However, there are strong indications that, despite the many struggles on defense, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman is safe.
[BN] Blitz coverage from Monday's locker cleanout and postseason press conference:
- Vic Carucci: Bills brass look to future, again | Taylor's thoughts all about football
- Jerry Sullivan: What's next for the Bills and Tyrod? Reading between the lines at One Bills Drive
- Tyler Dunne: Whaley calls rift 'tabloid reporting' | Sammy Watkins reflects on speaking up
- Jay Skurski: Evaluation of coaches to come; Lynn to interview with Dolphins
- Bills notebook: Talk turns to other players named Williams
- Transcript: The entire Q&A with Whaley and Ryan at season-ending press conference
- VIDEO: Our Team's Takeaway from press conference and players' locker cleanout
- PHOTO GALLERIES: Bills clean out their lockers | 2015 Bills season in The News, cover by cover