General manager Buddy Nix said Modrak was “relieved of his duties” in a move that comes as part of the team’s plan to reorganize its personnel department.
“We have begun that process and made a decision to head in a different direction,” Nix said in a statement released by the team. “We thank Tom for his 10 years of dedication to our organization and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Modrak held the title of vice president of college scouting, and had been with the Bills since 2001. He did not immediately return a message left with him.
Buffalo spent last weekend’s draft addressing its porous defense, starting with selecting Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus with the No. 3 pick. Seven of Buffalo’s nine selections were defensive players.
Modrak had been criticized for the team’s inconsistent drafting history. However, he had the backing of team owner Ralph Wilson.
Modrak became the odd man out in a front office headed by Nix, who had essentially taken over the team’s scouting duties over the past two years. Nix is a longtime scout, who was lured out of retirement to take over as the team’s GM near the end of the 2009 season.
Coach Chan Gailey also appeared to have more input in the team’s approach to the draft.
With Modrak out, Doug Whaley is expected to attain more influence in the team’s personnel decisions after completing his first season as the Bills assistant general manager/director of pro personnel.
Modrak was initially hired by former team president Tom Donahoe, and stayed on despite numerous front-office shuffles. Wilson expressed support for Modrak on numerous occasions, and had elevated his status by bringing Modrak into what the owner called his “inner circle” after the 2008 season.
Modrak took the brunt of the blame from Bills fans for the team’s inconsistent drafting history, which has played a role in Buffalo’s 11-year run of missing the playoffs. It’s also a stretch in which the team has had just one winning season — a 9-7 finish in 2004.
Though Modrak didn’t have the final say in the Bills’ selections, Buffalo missed on numerous first-round picks. It’s a group that includes offensive tackle Mike Williams, who flamed out and was cut three seasons after being selected fourth overall in 2002.
The Bills got very little in return from trading back into the first round to land quarterback J.P. Losman (22nd overall in 2004) and defensive tackle John McCargo (26th overall, 2006). Then there’s supposed pass-rushing specialist Aaron Maybin, who has as many NFL career sacks as he does starts — namely, zero — since being selected 11th overall two years ago.
In October 2009, a group of unhappy Bills fans rented a billboard in Buffalo urging Wilson to clean house by firing Modrak, coach Dick Jauron and pro personnel director John Guy. Both Jauron and Guy were fired at the end of that season.