He's been Buffalo's general manager for less than two years, but Doug Whaley is quickly establishing himself as a personnel boss who is ready to do anything to improve the quality of his football team's roster. And though Whaley has a philosophical belief that the draft is the best way to build a roster, making trades has been a popular tactic of the personnel boss when it has come to making player upgrades.
Over the past league year no other team in the NFL has made more trades than Whaley and the Bills. Both the Bills and Philadelphia Eagles have swung eight total trades from March 2014 to March 2015, with two of those trades taking place between the two clubs.
Whaley, when made aware of his heavy wheeling and dealing, chalked it up to the simple principle of trying to make the team better through every possible avenue.
"It shows you how we are committed to do whatever is possible to get this team where it needs to be," Whaley told Buffalobills.com. "If we think this deal is good for us and the other team thinks it's good for them then we have no problem making it."
The trade that made the most headlines in 2014 was the Bills' bold move up from pick number nine in round one of the 2014 NFL draft to pick four to pick Sammy Watkins. Buffalo parted with their pick at nine along with their 2015 first-round pick and 2015 fourth-round pick to move up five spots.
The Bills landed the top player on their board, and Watkins was productive as a rookie posting almost a 1,000-yard receiving season (982) while leading the team in receiving yards, receiving average and receiving touchdowns. Whaley said it then and believes it now, it was a calculated risk that they were willing to take and he still feels it was well worth it.
Buffalo would make four more trades before the draft was over last spring, moving back in round two and round five to get extra picks from St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
They also made a pair of player trades dealing Stevie Johnson to San Francisco and acquiring Bryce Brown from the Eagles, which came with the seventh-round pick that landed them Seantrel Henderson.
Bills fans might be lamenting the fact that the team doesn't have a first-round pick this year, but it hasn't prevented Whaley from improving the roster.
"Everyone is worried that we have no first-round pick," said Whaley. "There are other ways to acquire players and we're going to explore every avenue out there to acquire players to make us better."
Whaley didn't set out to make trades the primary means of improving the quality of his roster, but if an opportunity presents itself he's shown he won't hesitate.
"The major factor is just getting good, quality players that can help us win," he said. "We want to mold a winner and to be a winner you've got to get good players."
From Pitt to Philly and on to Buffalo. RB LeSean McCoy's career is captured in these photos.
Never was that more apparent than last week when Buffalo was approached by Philadelphia to see if they were interested in adding a running back the quality of LeSean McCoy. When first contacted by the Eagles, Whaley was listening.
"They reached out after the combine and got the ball rolling there," said Whaley. "They asked about some situations to see if we'd have an interest. We gave them a counterproposal and it was to their liking. It wasn't a lengthy trade process. We reached an agreement pretty much in one day, and said when the league year begins we'll make it official."
Not long after that move, Whaley brokered a deal with Minnesota GM Rick Spielman to acquire Matt Cassel and a draft choice in exchange for a pair of draft choices. Instead of settling for what was set to be on the free agent market, Buffalo addressed their veteran quarterback need by drawing up a deal to acquire one via trade.
"If you look at his resume he's been a backup, but he's also been a starter and he's won in this league and he's performed well," said Whaley. "So in talking with the offensive staff and Rex Ryan we thought this guy could come in and compete for a starting role."
Fast earning a reputation as a wheeler dealer, Whaley understands why he has that label.
"I guess people will see that I'm not afraid to do a deal if it makes sense for us," he said. "Hopefully those other GMs will be willing to give me a call if they have a deal they think we'd be interested in."
Given Whaley's willingness to pull the trigger, other NFL GM's are more likely to call Buffalo to make an offer or gauge interest in a trade scenario. For the Bills that's a benefit.
"Those are first call opportunities," Whaley said. "A lot of times if you're the first call and they like the deal and we like the deal we get the first crack at it. That's why I think it's beneficial to have that reputation."
The Bills have been active around the free agency window in 2015, securing players by extension, new contract or trade.