It seems like each year, it’s the same story with Jairus Byrd and the Buffalo Bills. According to the Bills’ team website, the team is pushing the “reset” button on contract talks with their Pro Bowl safety. It’s the same process we all saw last year when the two sides failed to agree on a long-term contract and instead saw the team franchise Byrd, paying him $6.9million for this past season.
President Russ Brandon maintains that contact talks between the two sides has been consistent and that both remain vigilant in regards to getting a long-term deal inked to keep Byrd in Western New York for the foreseeable future.
There was some concern that Byrd may have been turned off by the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to the Browns. Byrd, and the rest of the defense, enjoyed a very good season under the new coordinator in 2013. Despite the scheme change, he got to play next to Aaron Williams, who he has said he enjoys playing with. Whether the hiring of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would be enough to sway him in that regard remains to be seen.
The biggest issue obviously comes down to money. Byrd is reportedly looking for something in the $9 million range, which would make him one of only six safeties to have a cap hit that high. The team has to decide whether or not the three-time Pro Bowl safety is worth that kind of hit over the next few years or whether they should use the franchise tag on him again. Doing so would pay him around $8.3 million.
The Bills have a lot of thinking to do and will have to keep in mind that franchising Byrd again could risk alienating him, eliminating any possibility of a long-term deal between the two sides. Either way, the Bills need to find a way to keep Byrd in the fold. He’s a dynamic safety on a rising defense. Having him around can only help.