The Buffalo Bills aren’t expected to re-sign Jairus Byrd or place the franchise tag on him, as it was reported earlier today by WGR 550 that both sides are expected to part ways despite initially having positive discussions. They tried to look at trade options and the like, but it appears that the Bills elite free safety will walk.
That said, there’s still a chance the Bills are able to keep him, even if it only seems to be a slim one (after all, “unlikely” doesn’t mean “no”). The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that even if the Bills and Byrd aren’t able to agree to something before tomorrow, they could still get a deal done before free agency hits. At the same time, it deal seems very unlikely, especially since Rapoport also reported that Byrd rejected a contract offer that would have made him the highest paid safety “for a portion” of the deal.
It looks like Byrd is dead-set on hitting the open market, and I’m sure he is also dead-set on being the highest paid safety for his entire contract. Byrd believes he’s the best safety in the game, and there are plenty of people who would make the argument that he is the premier safety in the game. I wouldn’t (Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle, and Devin McCourty have legitimate cases to being better), but Byrd is a speedy playmaker at FS who does just about everything well. That’s the kind of guy the Bills will most likely lose this offseason, and it will be difficult to replace him. Even though they have ample cap room to make him the highest-paid safety in the game, no team wants to grossly overpay for anyone.
Rapoport reports that the Bills still want to re-sign him, and that isn’t surprising. I would be surprised if both teams don’t continue to talk, but I would be surprised if he gets the franchise tag for the second straight year (it would only cause even more problems, and the Bills probably don’t want to deal with that headache, especially since $8.3 million on the tag is still likely less than what Byrd wants per year) or agrees to a multi-year deal without the Bills throwing the house at him. Safety is a big need across the league, so I’m sure Byrd is dying to hit free agency.