Open Thread: Grading Buddy Nix’s Tenure as Buffalo Bills GM

Weigh in with your thoughts on Buddy Nix’s tenure as Bills general manager! (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

Buddy Nix’s more than three years as Buffalo Bills general manager came to an end Monday, when he announced his resignation in a team statement. Nix will remain with the franchise as a special assistant, but will no longer be in charge of personnel decisions. While the team has not yet named a successor, his position is widely expected to be filled by assistant GM Doug Whaley, who signed a contract extension with the organization in February.

Now it’s your chance, Buffalo Bills Draft readers, to weigh in. How would you grade Nix’s tenure as Bills general manager? What were his best and worst decisions, and which will define his time as Bills GM? Will his decision to step down have a positive or negative effect on the Bills going forward? Start the discussion by posting your comments in the thread below the article.

Nix’s tenure in Buffalo certainly had its ups and downs and has come with mixed reviews.

On the field, the Bills never became a winning team under Nix’s tenure, winning exactly one-third of their games (16-32) over the last three seasons.

The Bills’ biggest free-agency splash of Nix’s tenure came during the 2012 offseason, when they signed defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $96 million contract with $50 million guaranteed. The worst move of Nix’s tenure, however, may go down as the decision to re-sign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a six-year, $59 million contract in October 2011, only to release him less than two years later.

The Bills have added some key building blocks for their future under Nix’s tenure, so his legacy will continue to play out over the next few seasons. All four of his first-round picks — running back C.J. Spiller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and quarterback EJ Manuel — are very promising young players.

Nonetheless, we can evaluate Nix’s tenure to this point now that he will no longer be the man calling the shots in Buffalo.

BBD’s six staff writers weighed in with their thoughts on Nix’s tenure in Buffalo. Let us know what you think, and we’ll add some of the best responses to the post!

Glenn Gifford (Staff Writer):

Buddy Nix, regardless of the hits and misses in the draft, will be remembered as the guy who tied his string to the Ryan Fitzpatrick kite. That move alone (the neglect of the quarterback position) will forever put Buddy in a negative light. A straight shooter and an honest man who chose the wrong quarterback to build a franchise around.

Joe Marino (Staff Writer):

I would say Buddy Nix is very underappreciated for what he accomplished as GM.  He brought in Mario Williams, a big name free-agent nobody thought the Bills could get.

He has retained several solid players in Stevie Johnson, Kraig Urbik, Fred Jackson, Leodis McKelvin, Kyle Williams, and Scott Chandler. Previous GM’s would let our key players would walk.

He was able to get compensation for Lee Evans at the right time before he declined.  He is criticized for the Fitzpatrick deal, but he honestly gave a middle-of-the-pack deal to a middle-of-the-pack quarterback.

I also commend him for not feeling the pressure and drafting a quarterback just to draft a quarterback.  He did miss on Kaepernick and Wilson, but so did everyone else except the teams who drafted them in the second and third rounds.  He didn’t succumb to the pressure and draft Blaine Gabbert, Jimmy Clausen or Tim Tebow when he had the chance.  Overall, he left the Bills in good shape with a solid young roster and a potential franchise quarterback.

Ryan Talbot (Staff Writer):

When Buddy Nix became Bills GM in 2010 he said he was going to build through the draft. Here’s a breakdown of his draft results from 2010-2012, which aren’t great:

Star Players (1) – C.J. Spiller

Starters (7) – Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore, Cordy Glenn, Nigel Bradham, Aaron Williams, Chris Hairston, T.J. Graham

Contributors (5) – Alex Carrington, Arthur Moats, Da’Norris Searcy, Justin Rogers, Ron Brooks

Non-Contributors/Oft-Injured (4) – Torell Troup, Marcus Easley, Chris White, Zebrie Sanders

No Longer with the Team (10) – Ed Wang, Danny Batten, Levi Brown, Kyle Calloway, Kelvin Sheppard, Johnny White, Michael Jasper, Tank Carder, Mark Asper, John Potter

Between this list, contract extensions for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Kelsay (four-years, $24 million contract in September 2010, retired earlier this offseason), and hiring Chan Gailey as coach, I’m not overly thrilled with his tenure in Buffalo.

Eric Samulski (Staff Writer):

In a year or two, I think we’ll look back at Buddy Nix’s three-year stint with the Bills and realize that it was more successful than it first appeared. Sure, the Bills went 16-32 since he was named general manager, and hiring Chan Gailey proved to be misguided, but there have been some less obvious, and more substantial, changes that have occurred.

Most importantly, the Bills appear to be a team that is now trying to win, as opposed to the franchise that had simply looked to be treading water. The big money for Mario Williams and the releases of Fitzpatrick and Nick Barnett show that the Bills are willing to spend money to attract top talent but also willing to cut bait when they think a player has outstayed their usefulness.

That’s a major philosophy change for the Bills that has also seen the hiring of a young, aggressive coach (as opposed to old NFL retreads), and an influx of young talent that is far greater than the Bills had previously. Check the roster: Spiller, Alonso, Bradham, Gilmore, Glenn, Hairston, Dareus, Searcy, Urbik, Hughes, Lawson, Brown, Manuel, Woods, etc. These are all likely starters who were brought in by Nix; that’s a pretty sizable amount.

Joseph Curtis (Staff Writer):

Buddy Nix will be defined by his actions in 2013. Finally parting ways with Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick, he decided to think outside the box by hiring Doug Marrone and making EJ Manuel the first quarterback of the 2013 class.

If Marrone and Manuel lead the Bills to the playoffs in the near future, Nix will be the man who helped Buffalo back to contention. If Marrone and Manuel can’t get to the playoffs, he’ll be the man who continued the Bills’ losing ways. While the jury is still out on some of his draft classes and Mario Williams’ contract may be difficult to work around in a few years, writers and fans will speak kindly of Nix’s time if Marrone can get the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Evan Sidery (Staff Writer):

Buddy Nix did not make the playoffs during his tenure as the general manager, but he laid a solid foundation for future success. Going out and getting Mario Williams in free agency to anchor the defense, then drafting the franchise quarterback in E.J. Manuel makes it promising. Nix left Doug Whaley in a great position to succeed to lead as the new general manger of the Buffalo Bills.

Which staff writers do you agree/disagree with? Let us know!

Tags: Buddy Nix, C.J. Spiller, EJ Manuel, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stephon Gilmore

8 Responses to “Open Thread: Grading Buddy Nix’s Tenure as Buffalo Bills GM”

  1. Vaughan Moore says:

    Nix was horrible as the GM. He could have gotten J.J. Watt and a plethora of other star players, but instead drafted mediocre players other than Byrd, Dareus, Johnson, and Spiller. Glad that stupid redneck is gone as GM.

    • steve says:

      Have bills fans ever loved their gm, besides bill polian? It’s so easy to say gm was failure because there were no playoff appearances. But the fact of the matter is that nix was a better gm than the men before him. He dished out money to fitz and that may be his worse decision, but remember how much money marv levy dumped on oline for lousy results. Anyone remember who drafted Mike Williams? Aaron maybin? At least spiller is elite, albeit underused; dareus is serviceable and above average; Gilmore may become elite.
      Calling nix a stupid redneck shows your stupidity.

  2. Ryan Talbot says:

    As I stated, I think Nix did a nice job in round one of drafts. It was after that when many of his drafts didn’t pan out.

    Nix deserves credit for signing Mario and Mark Anderson as well as extending Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson.

    He also found good free agents like Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears and Scott Chandler.

    On the negative side, he extended Fitz and Chris Kelsay. He also didn’t negotiate with Andy Levitre ahead of time. If we had started negotiating a year before his deal was up, who knows if he’d still be with the team. He also didn’t seem too interested to negotiating with Byrd.

    His tenure was a mixed bag so to speak, but he did add talent and depth to the roster.

  3. Nick Zelko says:

    First off I’d like to say I enjoyed the article and the way it was done. All contributors had good points. I’ll break this down by writer so I don’t start babbling into random tangents.
    In response to Glenn: While I somewhat agree with you that the Fitz move was, um, to put it nicely… not great, he did give us a chance to win. Most fans look at it from a dollar perspective. I look at it by what is being put on the field. Fitz wasn’t great but he was put in the position of playing from behind bc the D couldn’t stop anyone. He did show us he could put points on the board but he was what he was. Average. Oh and he had that cool nickname, “Amish Rifle”. Overall, Nix made a questionable move that I forgot as soon as Fitz was let go. QB’s will always be overpaid. Maybe it was a senior moment.

    Joe – Agree. Kinda wished Levitre was on that retained list but hey, he got paid a nice contract and I believe he deserved that. He is a solid player who will really help that line in TN. I bet Chris Johnson cried tears of joy after his signing and the draft. Nix is/was notorious for finding former mid-round picks in free agency and waiver wires to plug into the line and I’m sure when he stepped down he handed Whaley a list labeled, “Scrap-Heap”. Nix nailed the Evans deal. Always felt Lee would’ve been great on a team who actually had a QB.

    Ryan – Hopefully we’ll be able to add Dareus, Gilmore, Glenn and Bradham to that first category after this year. Better yet, during. I also think Troup, Easley and Sanders(if they stay healthy)can really contribute to the future of this team. If we are able to move those up in your lists I would give Buddy a B, maybe even a B+ grade draft wise during his tenor. Time will tell. He did leave a young team to work with.

    Eric – I agree with you from top to bottom. Chan was the wrong hire. Tired of retreads on my team. Love the youth movement starting with the FO and working its way all the down through the roster.

    Joseph – I’m thinking the same thing and I would bet the rest of the Bills Nation would agree Nix’s legacy will be based off his last few moves. Here’s hoping they were the right ones.

    Evan – Solid finish to the article. The foundation has been laid and now Whaley(is his status of GM official yet or are we just spit-ballin’ here?)must build upon it. Either way I think Nix left us with a lot to work with.

    Well, hopefully this response didn’t bore anyone. I’m a banker, not a writer. Overall, I think Nix had his good moves and bad moves just like any other GM would. Unfortunately, he will be remembered by most for the Fitz contract but at least it didn’t turn into a Sanchez situation. Nix signed our stop-gap QB in Kolb and drafted EJ for the future. We got Super Mario. Longest 2.5 days of my life by the way. Building blocks on both sides of the ball. Love Gilmore, Dareus, Woods and Spiller for the future. I give Nix a C/C+ as GM with a possible B+/A depending on these last 2 drafts and pick ups(coaches included). Good stuff guys. Keep up the good work!

    • Eric Samulski says:

      Just wanted to thank you for reading and for it time it took to give such an insightful reply. Also, obviously, you get bonus points for agreeing with me top to bottom.

  4. Ryan Talbot says:

    Loving the comments everyone. Hope we hear even more opinions on Buddy Nix’s tenure as Bills GM!

  5. Glenn Gifford says:


    Great comments by you as well! Personally I liked Buddy and feel that he made some good depth moves. I would call his good vs bad moves around 50%. We all know them. That 2010 draft and the transition to a 3-4 back to a 4-3….some hits, some big whiffs. Personally, while Fitz was serviceable, he never had the arm strength or talent to bring Buffalo anywhere. I pray Manuel is a huge hit and Nix will be viewed more favourably. Great insight by all writers….keep up the great work lads!

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