In a move that seemed stunning to outsiders – but not necessarily to those in the know – Doug Marrone has opted out of his contract as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He is now available to pursue other jobs.
Marrone exercised a clause in his contract during a three-day window that opened Monday, which allows him to leave Buffalo and still receive his guaranteed base salary of $4 million.
What the heck happened? How do we explain the disconnect between Marrone and the front office, specifically new owner Terry Pegula? And, maybe most of all, how do we explain the extremely coach-friendly clause in Marrone’s contract?
“That was excellent work by his agent, Jimmy Sexton, who put in that opt-out clause in the event there was an ownership change,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on Tiki and Tierney. “And at the time, remember it was kind of getting late in the game a couple years back. The Browns were still interested in Marrone. He had a bit of leverage. There were some college programs that were interested. And to his credit, his agent did a masterful job penning that contract.
“As to the issues (with management), they’ve existed (for a long time),” La Canfora continued. “I remember when I was there in training camp and was shocked about what I was hearing then. (There was) already some discord about how he was going to use certain draft picks, and (there was) some back and forth that wasn’t necessarily so healthy because you need some checks and balances. You don’t want everybody to be in agreement all the time.
“But (there were) just a lot of issues already about how the quarterback position should play out and what the front office was thinking and what he was thinking and about how much of some of their recent draft picks were going to see the field. Some people in the front office (felt) he (was) not even really giving these kids a shot. He was brought there to really develop a quarterback and rebuild the offensive line.
“And yet, here they are going through the season, and they have to turn it over to Kyle Orton in a move of desperation. And the offensive line was by no means the strong suit of that organization. There was already a bit of a power struggle that was going on all the way back in the summer – things that were bordering on disfunction already.”
La Canfora believes that Buffalo, which has no quarterback and no first round pick in this year’s draft, will have a hard time hiring Marrone’s replacement. Marrone, meanwhile, could wind up with the Jets.
Brandon Tierney, a diehard Jets fan, is far from enamored with that possibility. He questioned whether Marrone is in any way an appreciable upgrade from Rex Ryan.
“Oh, you’re not going to get any argument here from me,” La Canfora said. “Now, the Rex thing had run its course, you now what I mean? I think you have to look through the six-year Rex Ryan prism and the 3-13 finish and the still lack of a quarterback. But saying all that, I’m with you. If I’m a Jets fan, I’m saying, ‘Who is this next guy? What is his upside? And is he going to be better than Rex?’ I think those are legitimate questions.”