The Buffalo Bills pre-draft luncheon, an annual tradition when the team’s GM and select scouting-department members speak to the media, will not include Doug Whaley and his scouts this year.
This news was reported by WGR 550’s Sal Capaccio.
According to Capaccio, Buffalo’s head coach Sean McDermott will answer (likely pre-draft) questions on April 20.
The pre-draft press conference itself is league mandated, but teams can choose who speaks to the media.
Per John Wawrow of the Associated Press, who’s covered the Bills for 17 years, no head coach has ever handled the pre-draft luncheon alone... until now.
Laying out all the read-between-the-line possibilities here, no Whaley at the pre-draft luncheon is most easily interpreted as foreshadowing for his firing or a demotion.
This kinda-sorta corresponds with a report from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora that surfaced Thursday, insinuating front-office changes could be on the horizon for the Bills at McDermott’s liking.
Here’s what La Canfora wrote:
“Panthers director of player personnel is someone particularly well thought of who could end up in Buffalo after the draft in one capacity or another.”
The man he’s referring to is Don Gregory, who was promoted from Director of College Scouting to Director of Player Personnel last May.
Remember though, at his introductory press conference in January, this is what McDermott said after he confirmed Whaley will still have control of Buffalo’s 53-man roster.
“I am very comfortable with the situation and I wouldn’t take this job if I wasn’t comfortable with the situation. Terrry and Kim [Pegula] made sure of that and I appreciate that. We’ve had extensive conversations throughout the interview process and they’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that I’m comfortable with things and Doug has as well. I wouldn’t take this job if I wasn’t comfortable.”
It’s also possible that after what was viewed by many as a baffled press conference when Rex Ryan was fired last December, Bills brass may not want to put Whaley in front of the assembled media if they don’t have to, thereby continuing to make McDermott the central (non-player) figure of the franchise.
Will Whaley’s exclusion in the pre-draft luncheon ultimately be the first signal of his firing or demotion? Or will it simply be remembered as a tweak made by the McDermott regime?
Only time will tell.