INDIANAPOLIS — The Buffalo Bills dropped a bombshell at the start of the NFL Scouting Combine with the announcement that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will take the 2023 season off from coaching.
No reason was given and no replacement was named.
A statement from the Bills also said that Frazier planned to return to coaching in 2024, though it did not specify if he would be returning to the team.
Coach Sean McDermott told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that Frazier's decision came "probably in the last week or so."
"Yeah, we'll miss him," McDermott said. "I thought he did a really good job with our defense. It's a long and hard season and he decided to take a year off here and we want the best for him."
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane also spoke to reporters at the Combine about Frazier's decision.
"Leslie reached out and just talked through some things, and ultimately, you know, he didn't want to retire. He's not there in his mind, but he just wanted to take a step back. So, he's going, the way we left it, he's going to take 2023 off," said Beane.
Frazier, 63, joined the Bills in 2017, when Sean McDermott was named head coach.
Despite ranking at, or near, the top of the NFL in key statistical categories, the Bills’ defense has come under fire the past two seasons, especially in the playoffs. There was speculation after the Bills’ divisional playoff loss against Cincinnati last month that Frazier’s future could be in doubt.
McDermott said the Bills were "just getting started" with the process of replacing Frazier. One possibility is McDermott taking full control of calling defensive signals, something he has done as a former defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and Panthers, and something he has occasionally done as head coach in Buffalo.
The Bills could go with a candidate who is already on the staff. One possibility is Al Holcomb, who was recently hired as a senior defensive assistant.
"The internal evaluation will continue, we'll just keep taking it one day at a time," McDermott said. "I'm extremely confident in the guys that we have, the coaches that we have already in our building. So we'll see where it goes."
Besides the Frazier announcement, the Bills also revealed the following updates to the coaching staff:
*Officially named Holcomb senior defensive assistant. He was the Carolina Panthers’ interim defensive coordinator last season. Holcomb also coached with McDermott when McDermott was Carolina’s DC from 2013-16.
*Austin Gund was named offensive assistant/offensive line.
*Adam Henry was named wide receivers coach, replacing Chad Hall, who left the Bills for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
*Kyle Shurmur was named offensive quality control coach.
This story is developing. We will have updates later.