Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone surprisingly opted out of his contract Wednesday after two years with the team.
Bills owner Terry Pegula issued the following statement Wednesday evening:
"Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach.
“We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives.
“We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.”
Marrone was hired in January 2013, taking over from Chan Gailey, after coaching Syracuse University from 2009 to 2012. He compiled a record of 15-17 in his two seasons with the Bills.
The Bills finished 9-7 this past season, their first winning season since 2004, though the team again failed to make the playoffs, extending the longest post-season drought in the NFL to 15 years.
The move is seen by many as unexpected. Marrone, 50, had a thee-day opt-out clause in his contract, which he exercised Wednesday.
However, WBFO Bills' commentator Matt Sabuda said perhaps Marrone's exit is not quite as surprising when one takes a closer look at his contract. The pact includes an unusual clause that allows Marrone to receive his $4 million salary for the upcoming season even if he exits early.
Sabuda said there are also indicators that Marrone was pushing for more influence.
"A lot of what I've heard about Marrone is that he wanted an increasing role in the organization and wanted more power. I think the Pegulas were probably less likely to want to give that to him right now without any certainty as to what they're going to do with their front office," Sabuda told WBFO.
Meanwhile, widespread rumors that Bill Polian might return to the organization were dashed when Vic Carucci, Bills beat reporter for The Buffalo News, reported that he talked with Polian. According to Carucci, Polian spoke with team owner Terry Pegula about an advisory role. However, decisions by Marrone and quarterback Kyle Orton to leave the team changed the dynamic. Carucci reported that due to the developments, Polian said he wasn't prepared to make the commitment that would be required.