The Bills had expected to see a 2015 return to the franchise from Bill Polian. On Wednesday night, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported unequivocally that Polian “will be taking over as Bills team president/football czar but move may not be announced til late Jan, due to his commitments.”
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, which had been conspicuously (but predictably) silent on the subject Polian’s status, Polian will be staying at ESPN.
“Bill Polian today informed Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula that he will remain as an ESPN NFL analyst and commentator for 2015 and beyond,” Mortensen writes. “Pegula had reached out to Polian in an advisory capacity and eventually gauged his interest to head the team’s front office. That led to further discussions but Polian decided he was content with his current quality of personal and professional life. Pegula was understanding of Polian’s position.”
Not mentioned by Mortensen is the reality that, per a league source, Polian ultimately decided he wanted more money than Pegula was willing to pay. It’s also possible that Polian leveraged the interest into a sweetened deal with ESPN, to remain there “for 2015 and beyond.”
It’s also believed Polian wanted Marrone to remain in place as the head coach. Last month, Polian raved about Marrone, who opted to collect $4 million to walk away.
Polian’s decision not to return to Buffalo now turns the entire plan upside down. Guys who were believed to be in trouble (like CEO Russ Brandon and G.M. Doug Whaley) now may have bought some more time. How much time isn’t known, because the current thinking is that Pegula will feel compelled to make a run at a big-name coach.
Which could mean that Bill Cowher finally will get the major payday that he was never going to get in Pittsburgh.