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Rex Ryan fired: timing stemmed from dispute over Tyrod Taylor

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Rex could have coached in Week 17 but wouldn’t coach if Tyrod Taylor wasn’t going to be his quarterback.

We have more insight into the firing of Rex Ryan and the strange timing of the move. Ryan was fired a day after holding a press conference with local media in anticipation of the season finale and now we know why.

“According to multiple people with knowledge of the conversation, Ryan, Pegula and Whaley had had their standard weekly conversation last Tuesday,” wrote Jenny Vrentas. “That’s when Ryan learned of the organization’s decision to bench Taylor, the starting quarterback the past two seasons.”

Vrentas has a media-coach relationship with Ryan and has profiled him twice since he became Bills head coach, so this account probably came from Rex himself or someone near him. She notes Tyrod Taylor was the main reason for the odd timing of the split between the Bills and Rex.

“The Bills were already eliminated from playoff contention and there would have been a financial risk to playing Taylor. His $27.5 million salary for 2017 is guaranteed for injury only, so if he suffered a significant one in the season finale, the Bills would have been on the hook for money they may not want to pay. They also wanted to see the other quarterbacks on the roster, EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones, get some game action.”

Rex didn’t take kindly to that move being dictated to him, especially with reports swirling about his impending firing, Vrentas continued:

“Both were obvious signs that the Bills were not committed to Taylor—or to Ryan, who had handpicked Taylor to be his quarterback. So Ryan, who for a few weeks had been hearing reports of his impending firing, asked to speak to Pegula one-on-one. Ryan had made a promise to Taylor, telling him that he’d be the Bills starting quarterback as long as Ryan was the coach. Ryan didn’t want to break his word, and he was worried how the team would respond. If you are already planning on firing me next Monday, Ryan told Pegula, then you might as well fire me now.”

And so he did. Pegula fired Rex without talking about it with Whaley because he was put on the spot. Still, if Whaley and Pegula were leaning that way already, it shouldn’t have surprised the Bills general manager.

There is something to be said for Ryan’s loyalty to Taylor in this situation. At least now we have an answer as to the timing.