Bills Today: An open coaching search

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Here is the Bills news of note for Jan. 3rd.

**1 - An open coaching search

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The coaching search that begins this week will be drastically different than the one in 2015. General Manager Doug Whaley made that clear during his end of season news conference with reporters.

When Rex Ryan was hired just two years ago, Whaley said that he didn't make the final call in the decision. Instead, it was Terry and Kim Pegula, along with Russ Brandon, who had most of the say in the direction of that coaching search. For this go around, although the Pegulas will again have the final say as owners, Whaley will spearhead the search. Brandon will have no role in this year's process, due to his expanded role as the President of the Sabres.

"Back then, we'd have to talk to the Pegulas, but we decided, as a group, that we would make it a committee approach and they would have the final say," Whaley said. "This time the ownership has faith in me and I have faith in myself. We'll see where it goes. And I understand the gravity of the situation and I understand that it's falling square on my shoulders and I accept the challenge."

Whaley also said several times that it will be an open search and that there are no clear frontrunners, disagreeing with reports that it was Anthony Lynn's job to lose.

"It will be an open search and I can understand why people would connect the dots because he is a familiar face but it will, again, be an open search," Whaley said.

Although there will be no search by committee this time around, Whaley will utilize the assistance of Jim Monos, director of player personnel, throughout the process. Monos has been with the Bills since 2013, and previously spent time with New Orleans and Philadelphia.

2 - Whaley confirms request for GoodwinWhaley also confirmed that the Bills have sent out an interview request to interview Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.

Goodwin has been Arizona's OC since 2013, and previously was an offensive line coach with the Steelers and Colts.

Whaley wouldn't say much on Monday about the direction Buffalo wanted to go with its next head coach so he wouldn't tip off other teams that could be looking at the same candidates.

Goodwin, although he hasn't called plays in Arizona, is one of the top offensive minds in the game right now.

The Cardinals had the top ranked offense in the NFL in 2015 for the first time in franchise history and set team single-season records for points (489), TDs (59), TD passes (35), total net yards (6,533), first downs (373).

This past season, Goodwin helped guide the breakout season of Cardinals running back David Johnson to 1,239 rushing yards.

Goodwin is only 43 years old and has coached under Bruce Arians for the past 10 seasons. While Whaley didn't want to give too many details on the type of coach he wants, he did say that he wants someone to be here for the long haul.

"We are searching for that continuity," Whaley said. "We're searching for that coach that can be here for 10, 15 years."

3 - Large free agent numbers not an issue
Despite the looming chore of figuring out what to do with the 20-plus unrestricted free agents on Buffalo's roster, Whaley said that he and his staff were prepared for this offseason and the work that needs to be done to assemble the team for next year.

"If you look at the majority of our free agents there are a lot of guys that we brought in for backup roles for one-year contracts and we were trying to see what they could do and we could sign them again after this year for longer-term deals," Whaley said. "So it seems a daunting task but if you really break it down, it's not going to be as daunting as you would think."

Solidifying Whaley's point, the Bills signed both Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown to one-year contracts to serve as backups, but both guys became key cogs to Buffalo's defense in 2016.

Of course, with Brown and Alexander's production, they will command more money than what the Bills were able to sign them for last year.

Other notable free agents include Robert Woods, Stephon Gilmore, Jordan Mills and Jerome Felton.

Whaley said that while the front office will of course be mindful of the salary cap, he envisions the Bills being somewhere in the range of $10-30 million dollars under the cap entering the 2017 season, depending on the decisions they make in the offseason.

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