Buffalo Bills hope to sign Byrd to long-term deal
The Buffalo Bills are playing the waiting game with Jairus Byrd
while hoping to sign their star safety to a long-term contract
Byrd was the only member of the Bills not in attendance for the
start of Buffalo’s first voluntary minicamp under new coach Doug
Marrone on Tuesday. His absence was not a surprise, however, after
the safety was given the franchise tag on March 1.
General manager Buddy Nix said at the team’s predraft luncheon
that the Bills are hoping to sign Byrd to a multiyear deal, but Nix
doesn’t know when talks will start to pick up.
”There’s been some contact and we’re making an effort to try to
get a long-term deal done with Jairus,” Nix said. ”But you know –
and I don’t mean this in a bad way – I haven’t given it much
thought. I don’t mean that we’re not interested, because we
certainly need him and eventually he’ll probably be here. But
there’s nothing we can do except try to get a contract done. If it
doesn’t work, then the ball’s in his court. He comes when basically
he gets ready.”
The Bills could certainly use Byrd as they attempt to make over
one of the worst defenses in the league last season Buffalo
finished 26th in the NFL in points allowed last year and 22nd in
The 26-year-old Byrd has been Buffalo’s most consistent defender
in recent seasons. A second-round pick in 2009, Byrd was fourth on
the team in tackles in 2012 with 76 and led the team in
interceptions with five. He has 18 career interceptions, tied for
third most among NFL players since 2009. His breakout season came
as a rookie when he tied for the NFL lead with nine
New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine plans on installing a
hybrid defense that attacks opposing quarterbacks, which could play
to Byrd’s strengths. Byrd excels in deep coverage and would benefit
from an improved Buffalo pass rush.
”We’d love to have him here yesterday, but we don’t,” Nix
said. ”So we’re going to work hard to get ready these guys that
By giving Byrd the franchise tag, the Bills essentially gave the
safety a one-year contract offer worth $6.9 million. Byrd does not
have to accept the offer and is free to negotiate with other teams.
The Bills have the right to match any offer Byrd receives or get
two first-round picks in return as compensation from any team that
Byrd is one of two players in the league to remain unsigned
after receiving the franchise tag. Denver offensive tackle Ryan
Clady is also without a contract, while the six other tagged
players signed their one-year offers.
The Bills also announced a change on the depth chart behind
Byrd. Aaron Williams, a second-round pick in 2011, has moved from
cornerback to safety. The 22-year-old has struggled in coverage
throughout his time in the pros, prompting the position switch.