Buffalo Bills star free safety Jairus Byrd would be easily one of the best free agents on the open market, and it sounds like he could end up hitting the free agent waters after all. Despite reports that talks between both sides have gone well and that the Bills would be willing to franchise him, a source tells WGR 550 Buffalo’s Jeremy White that Byrd and the Bills “may be parting ways soon”. The Bills are “unlikely” to tag Byrd or re-sign him before the 11th of March. White reports that while there have been “productive” talks between both sides, it looks like they will ultimately part ways.
It’s an interesting report, especially since the deadline to tag players is tomorrow. If the Bills don’t keep Byrd around, then they would lose one of the most talented defensive players in the game and a big-time playmaker. They would almost certainly have to replace him at free safety, but there aren’t really any replacements out there. The Bills were involved in a saga with Byrd last season when he was under the tag, and he had a solid season in 11 games upon his return from plantar fasciitis.
If the Bills do choose to franchise Byrd for a second straight season, then the 27-year-old Oregon product would make $8.3 million. It’s clear that Byrd would have more than just feelings of hate toward the franchise tag, as he wants to receive a mega deal that pays him like the best safety in the game. The Bills would love to keep him, but that would seem to rich for their pockets. I doubt they want to go through another franchise tag situation again, so both sides would likely have to quickly agree to something in order for him to stay in Buffalo. He would be a tough loss to swallow, so hopefully the Bills and Byrd can find some common ground and turn an unlikelihood into a multi-year contract. At this point, though, that seems like wistful thinking.