”We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization,” Bills owner Terry Pegula said. ”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.”
Pegula said the team will immediately begin searching for a coach. One candidate might already be on the staff in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He was hired a year ago after previously spending five seasons coaching the Detroit Lions.
The Bills have gone through six head coaches since Wade Phillips was fired following the 2000 season.
Marrone’s decision to step down was a stunning one, coming after he led the Bills to a 9-7 finish. It was the Bills’ first winning season since a 9-7 finish in 2004. Buffalo, however, missed the playoffs to extend the NFL’s longest active postseason drought to 15 seasons.
The opt-out clause in Marrone’s contract went into effect after Pegula and wife Kim bought the team in October. Marrone had until Wednesday to make his decision.
The team was sold after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.
The timing of Marrone’s departure comes as the Pegulas consider hiring a veteran presence to oversee the football operation. Former Bills GM turned broadcaster Bill Polian is considered a candidate to fill what would be a newly created position.