Bills hit ‘reset’ in contract talks with S Byrd
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon sees no reason why last year’s stalemate in contract talks with Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd would prevent the two sides from reaching a long-term deal this offseason.
”It’s a process and there’s no carryover. You start over again and you try to get something done,” Brandon told The Associated Press on Monday. ”We just weren’t able to come up with a solution that worked for both parties, so you reset it and start again.”
Brandon said the team maintains ”great communication” with Byrd and his agent, Eugene Parker, and said there are no lingering hard feelings from talks last year.
”We all are hoping to get a deal done,” Brandon said. ”And we’re going to do the exact same thing this time, work our tails off to try to get another one done.”
Byrd is the Bills’ most high-profile player not under contract this offseason. He spent last year playing under a $6.9 million franchise tag after the sides were unable to reach a long-term deal by a mid-July deadline.
The stalemate in talks led to Byrd waiting until the final day of training camp to accept the contract. He then missed the first five games of the season because of plantar fasciitis.
Despite the missed time, the fifth-year player was selected to his third Pro Bowl after he tied for the team lead with four interceptions, and added a sack and a forced fumble.
General manager Doug Whaley said the Bills are in the midst of putting together contract offers to pending free agents, including Byrd.
Whaley wouldn’t rule out using the franchise tag one last time on Byrd in order to retain his rights. The price of this year’s tag would jump to over $8 million for Buffalo.
Byrd did not return after hurting his back in the first quarter of the Pro Bowl on Sunday. Byrd posted a message on his Twitter account that he’s OK.
Whaley had no update on the injury. He said Byrd was expected to return to the team’s headquarters for evaluation.
Brandon provided an update on another front. Without going into detail, he said he’s had discussions with Rogers Communications regarding the team’s concerns about its annual ”Bills In Toronto” series.
Brandon questioned the benefits of the series following a 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta at Toronto on Dec. 1. He wondered about the Bills possibly giving away a home-field edge by playing indoors.
Brandon has not ruled out the possibility of the Bills pulling out of the remaining four years of the series.