Deadline day for Bills safety Jairus Byrd

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
5:00
AM ET
The Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd are at a crossroads.

Monday marks the final day that the Bills can assign Byrd with the franchise tag, which would essentially tie the three-time Pro Bowl safety back down to Buffalo for next season. Tagging Byrd would cost the Bills about $8.4 million, up from $6.9 million last season.

Byrd
If the Bills don't franchise Byrd by 4 p.m. Monday, then Byrd will have an opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his six-year career. Other teams may begin negotiations with Byrd on Saturday, although the free-agent signing period doesn't officially open until next Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Byrd and the Bills had reached a "standstill" in negotiations and that no further talks were scheduled. The report included the detail that the Bills offered Byrd $30 million over the first three seasons.

It's dangerous to make any qualitative statements about the Bills' offer if only partial details have emerged. Ultimately, if Byrd leaves in free agency, the Bills want perception to be that they made a reasonable offer to one of their best players and he did not accept it.

But for Byrd, there is little reason to accept any offer from the Bills less than a week before hitting the open market for the first time in his career. The Bills' most recent offer is likely to fall short of what another team could offer Byrd next week.

The Bills have the cap space to tag Byrd again this season, although it would restrict their spending ability elsewhere in free agency. Naming Byrd their franchise player would theoretically allow the Bills to negotiate with him until July 15, but after being tagged twice in two seasons, Byrd may have minimal desire to come to the table.

Much could still change Monday and over the rest of this week, but at this point, the signs are pointing to Byrd flying out of Buffalo.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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