- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Buffalo Bills (4-7) were essentially knocked out of the playoff race after last week's loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But that hasn't stopped the Bills from thinking about their long-term future.
According to a league source, Buffalo has begun preliminary contract negotiations with pending free-agent safety Jairus Byrd. No deal is imminent. But Buffalo's proactive approach is an early sign the Bills want to work out an extension before Byrd becomes a free agent in March.
Byrd, 26, is one of Buffalo's most consistent playmakers. He leads the Bills in interceptions (four), forced fumbles (three) and is third on the team in tackles (56).
Byrd and Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens are the top safeties in next year's free-agent market. Byrd has 17 career interceptions in four seasons and is wrapping up the final five games under his rookie contract. He was drafted by the Bills in the second round in 2009.