As we all know by now, several media outlets published reports Monday saying the Buffalo Bills and valuable safety Jairus Byrd will be begin contract talks at the upcoming NFL Combine this week—a strategy the Bills implemented successfully last year with then pending free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
According to a report by NFL.com citing a source, the Bills front office has not yet begun debating on whether they’d use the franchise tag on Byrd if a long term deal can’t be reached, which would cost the team around $6.7 million. I’ve been saying this for months and feel I need to reiterate this again. There hasn’t been and won’t be a debate amongst the front office, because there is nothing to debate. If Byrd is not signed to an extension, he’s going to be franchise tagged, period.
Having said that, it’s important for both sides to try and get a deal done now. The last thing Buffalo wants is a disgruntled Byrd in training camp this summer.
Doing so gives the team the ability to turn their attention to offensive guard Andy Levitre, or at least the option to use the tag on him. However, at nearly $10 million that is anything but a lock to happen if they can’t agree to a deal now.
Levitre should he hit the open market would be a hot commodity. There’s growing rumblings that Indianapolis and Cincinnati among others would make a strong push to sign him.
Levitre’s future in Buffalo seems far less secure than Byrd’s, though everything we’ve heard indicate Levitre wants to remain with the Bills. You can rest assured, however, that barring something incredibly crazy happening Byrd will be back in 2013.
The deadline for a NFL team to use the franchise tag is March 4.