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Doug Marrone opts out of his contract with the Buffalo Bills

Doug Marrone

There are but 32 head coaching jobs in the National Football League. Plenty of coaches spend their entire careers striving and sacrificing for a chance at one, so it's not often that a sitting NFL head coach voluntarily walks away from his job. But that's what happened Wednesday as Doug Marrone resigned as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

A clause in Marrone's contract allowed him the option to opt out of his contract within three days of the end of the season in the event of an ownership change, which the Bills experienced this year. The estate of the late owner Ralph Wilson sold the franchise to Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula for a record $1 billion on Sept. 9. ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Wednesday that Marrone will receive his $4 million salary for 2015 without it offsetting against any future income.

“We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization," Pegula said in a statement Wednesday. "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."

Marrone went 15-17 in two seasons as head coach, including a 9-7 mark this fall - the club's first winning season since 2004. The Bills have not reached the playoff since 1999, and the last coach to leave the team with a winning record is Wade Phillips, who posted a 29-19 mark from 1998-2000.

The Bills' next head coach will be the franchise's seventh since Marv Levy's retirement following the 1997 season.

“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," Pegula said.

Buffalo took a step toward that on Thursday, as CBS's Jason La Canfora reported Bill Polian will return to the NFL in a team president-type role with the Bills later this month. Update: Polian has turned down an offer from the Bills.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.