Although star free safety Jairus Byrd hasn’t officially hit the free agent market and stated yesterday that he and the team are still talking, it’s becoming clear that Byrd doesn’t want to spend another second in Buffalo. He had a great run with the Bills, but he soured on the organization after receiving the franchise tag yesterday and not getting the deal he wanted. Byrd wants to be paid like the best safety in the NFL for his entire contract, because he believes he’s the best in the league. I’d prefer Earl Thomas and believe Byrd overvalues himself, but so many teams need an elite FS and there aren’t many legit free safeties out there on the open market; this is the year that Byrd could get his wish.
With Byrd basically gone, the focus has been on potential replacements for the Bills, and the name at the top of the list has always been current safety Aaron Williams, who is a converted cornerback. The Bills have officially decided on Williams as Byrd’s successor by giving him a four-year, $26 million extension with a whopping $14.625 million guaranteed.
After having a rough first two seasons at corner as a high second-round pick out of Texas, the 23-year-old broke out last season in his third year in the league and first as a full-time safety. He wasn’t great at all, but he was solid and recorded 82 tackles with 11 passes defended and four interceptions. While he has a ways to go before he’s regarded as a CB-S convert of Devin McCourty’s class, Williams certainly showed up well last year and was especially impressive in run support (some corners struggle in that regard when they transition to safety). He made plenty of plays last year, and he’ll only get better with age and experience at the position. I really like the decision the Bills made to lock Williams up, but I feel like they gave him too much guaranteed money.