The Buffalo Bills went through a trio of interviews over the weekend for their vacancy with the position of general manager, and now, it appears owners Terry and Kim Pegula have identified their potential top target.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills have scheduled a second interview with Carolina Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane -- a sign that the team may have found the team's next GM. The interview will be conducted in Buffalo, according to Schefter.
Beane, 40, has been with the Panthers organization since 1998. He and Bills head coach Sean McDermott worked together for the six seasons that McDermott was the defensive coordinator (2011-2016).
The Panthers assistant general manager is thought by many to be one of the strongest in-house candidates to take over in Carolina after the current GM retired. Dave Gettleman, 66, remains the GM of the Panthers and Beane works along with him for the time being.
The Bills also officially interviewed Brian Gaine of the Houston Texans and Trey Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joe B's Take
Since the rumblings of the possible big shakeup within the Bills front office emerged just ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, Brandon Beane's name has been attached to the possible opening at general manager. When Doug Whaley was let go by the team, the connection and potential for landing with Buffalo only grew stronger.
Beane was Buffalo's first interview and had to come with an incredibly strong recommendation from head coach Sean McDermott, otherwise, this pairing would have had no shot of happening. Beane, very much in the mold of the Pegula's reported search for a Buffalo Sabres GM, fits the mold of someone with "new blood" that has plenty of league experience but has never held the permanent title of general manager before.
Now, assuming Beane lands the job -- because the Pegulas really only conduct second interviews with the candidates they have identified as their main target (see: Rex Ryan, Sean McDermott) -- he'll have his first crack at running a player personnel department and helping put together a 53-man roster for the first time in his career.
I like this move, mostly because of the potential of what it could be -- and it's something that has lacked within the halls of One Bills Drive for the past four seasons. The reported tension between former GM Doug Whaley with the last two head coaches in Buffalo -- Doug Marrone and Rex Ryan -- is never a good model for a successful organization.
Ideally, the head coach and general manager are in complete unison about the direction of the team -- with the same set of principles in what they're looking for. Perhaps it was due to a lack of communication, or just a different belief in how to build a roster... but it just wasn't working in Buffalo with Whaley.
You can't rule out one of the biggest facets that Pegula has pushed publicly about how he wants his organization to be run: with communication. By bringing in a GM like Beane, the Bills would be getting just that.
He's been with McDermott for the past six seasons, and over that time, the new Bills coach likely identified Beane as someone he could trust in the type of partnership that's needed between a head coach and general manager. While there will and should be some disagreements in roster building, it should never reach the level where harmony can no longer be attained.
If Beane can bring that with McDermott, along with a fresh perspective on how to build a roster, the Bills are continuing the encouraging trend of not doing the same things they have been for years on end. The McDermott imprint on the organization is a real one, but they aren't resting on their laurels and thinking that eventually -- with the same model that's been at One Bills Drive for decades now -- it will just even out and the team will rise back to prominence.
Theoretically, should the Bills hire Beane, this is a major step in the right direction -- or at the very least, a different one, which I equate to being the right step after being on the outside looking in on the playoffs for the past 17 years. Now, it's just a matter of making it work, which is much easier being said or written than actually done.