Bills don't franchise Jairus Byrd

Updated: March 4, 2014, 12:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Buffalo Bills will not use their franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd, but they remain open to reaching a deal with the three-time Pro Bowler.

The Bills announced their decision Monday in a statement from general manager Doug Whaley, who also said that Buffalo would not use its franchise tag on any player this year.

"We have negotiated with representation for Jairus Byrd for more than a year but have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension," Whaley said. "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."

The Associated Press reported Sunday that contract talks had stalled after Byrd turned down a lucrative offer earlier this offseason from the Bills.

The Bills used their franchise tag last year on Byrd, who made $6.9 million under the one-year deal.

"I know the fans are going to say, 'Why didn't we get something for him?'" Whaley said. "This system is not set up so you can sign everybody. We've done a great job of signing guys that we've had -- Leodis McKelvin, Eric Wood last year, [Fred] Jackson, [Kraig] Urbik -- so we do put an emphasis on signing and keeping our players. With the salary cap system and the way the NFL is, you can't keep everybody."

Last summer, Byrd chose not to sign his franchise tender until the third week of the preseason after he was unable to reach a long-term deal.

[+] EnlargeByrd
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesThe Bills will not use their franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd or anyone else, GM Doug Whaley said.

Byrd has been Buffalo's best defensive back since being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Oregon. He enjoyed a breakout season as a rookie, when he finished tied for the league lead with nine interceptions -- a rookie franchise record.

Last year, Byrd tied for the team lead with four interceptions and also had a sack and a forced fumble despite not reporting to the team until late August. Byrd then missed the first five games of the regular season because of plantar fasciitis in both feet.

Despite the time he missed, Byrd still earned his third Pro Bowl selection.

Byrd has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in 73 career games.

ESPN.com Bills reporter Mike Rodak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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