After Monday’s 4:00 deadline finally passed, it became official that the Buffalo Bills would not franchise tag safety Jairus Byrd.
If GM Doug Whaley and the Bills decided to place the franchise tag on Byrd, he would have been slated to make $8.43 million this upcoming season. Although the Bills and Byrd have been negotiating a long term contract, thus far no deal has been made. Byrd recently rejected an offer that would have made him the highest paid safety in the NFL, which indicates that he will likely test free agency. If that is the case, Whaley will have his hands full in attempting to find someone to replace the three-time Pro-Bowler.
We have negotiated with representation for Jairus Byrd for more than a year, but have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension. We remain open to getting a deal done with Jairus, but we have chosen not to use the franchise tag on any of our impending unrestricted free agents.”
Jairus Byrd is coming off yet another spectacular season despite battling injuries. Byrd missed the entire offseason and the first few games of the year due to injury. However, after just starting 9 games in 2013 Byrd still accounted for 4 INTs, 1 FF, and 6 passes defended. Also, for the third time in his career Byrd was selected to the Pro Bowl.
There is no doubt Byrd has talent, which is made clear by the fact that he still managed to succeed despite missing all offseason and preseason events. Jairus Byrd will likely be one of the most sought after free agents, and according to NFL’s Around the League, Byrd is ranked as the number 1 remaining free agent. Byrd’s future in the NFL is an interesting enigma which will soon be solved.
Some possible landing spots for Jairus Byrd include AFC East rival New York Jets. The Jets have had their struggles in pass coverage recently, and Byrd is arguably the best coverage safety in the game today. Also, for once the Jets have the cap room to make this type of big move in free agency, and Idzik might just jump at the opportunity. The 27 year old safety is still in his prime and would be a huge addition the currently depleted secondary.
Last year the New York Jets ranked 22nd in pass defense, and with safety Ed Reed possibly being lost to free agency there is a vacancy at the position. Although signing Jairus Byrd will definitely cost a lot of money, he might be the big play-maker that the Jets need in the defensive backfield.
The Jets and all the other teams interested in Jairus Byrd will have to wait until March 11th before they can officially pursue him, as the Bills still have until then to re-sign him. However, all signs point to the Bills and Byrd parting ways, which should lead to an incredible free agency story and is definitely something to keep your eye on.