Former Bills GM Close to Landing Steelers’ General Manager Job

Doug Whaley

Getty Doug Whaley speaks to reporters at a press conference.

Former Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley could be landing a new job soon.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers are showing serious interest in the former Bills GM for their own general manager opening, and are seeking a second interview with him. For Whaley, it’s a chance to return to his first NFL team in more than five years.

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Whaley Seeking Return to the NFL

While he has not been part of an NFL franchise since the Bills let him go in 2017, Whaley has not been out of football entirely. He spent the following years as a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, then took a position as senior vice president of player personnel with the XFL.

He now has a chance to return to the NFL with the Steelers, though could have some tight competition. As Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alpert noted, there are at least two other candidates coming in for second interviews.

“Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek are both set to meet with the Steelers again,” Alpert noted. “Cowden joined the Titans in 2016 and previously worked for the Panthers while Spytek worked for the Broncos and Browns before going to Tampa.”

Whaley has close ties to Pittsburgh — both the franchise and the city. As NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman noted, he is a Pittsburgh native and played defensive back for the Pitt Panthers before spending a decade in the Steelers’ personnel department.

The Steelers face an uncertain future, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger giving way to a quarterback battle in a group that includes former Bills signal-caller Mitch Trubisky.


Whaley Helped Bills Build Foundation

Though the Bills were just 30-34 during his time as general manager, Whaley helped to bring in several key players who would help break the 17-year playoff drought and build the Bills into Super Bowl contenders. He was responsible for drafting Tre’Davious White, Dion Dawkins, and Matt Milano, along with now-former Bills Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins.

Whaley was fired just after the 2017 NFL Draft, but parted on amicable terms and received a good word from Bills co-owner Terry Pegula.

“We have enjoyed working with Doug. He is a good person and we want to thank him for his work and commitment to our football team,” Pegula said in a statement, via ESPN. “This was my decision. It was not an easy decision but I believe it’s the right one for the future of the Buffalo Bills. Our search for a new general manager will begin immediately.”

The Bills also fired their entire scouting staff at the time.

“I don’t want to discuss publicly why we made the decision, the factors,” Pegula said. “Doug is a good guy. He’s a smart man. But we made the decision. And the reasons remain private to us and Doug.”

Whaley would be replaced by Brandon Beane, who was hired just after the Bills nabbed head coach Sean McDermott. He drafted Josh Allen the following season. Since then, the Bills have gone 49-32, making the playoffs four out of five seasons and reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2020.

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