The deadline has passed with the Buffalo Bills having declined to place the franchise tag on Jairus Byrd. The Bills could’ve retained his rights for 2014 by designating him and paying $8.4 million for 2014, with an opportunity to agree to a long-term deal up through mid-July.
While technically Byrd can still negotiate with the Bills exclusively before March 11 and as a free agent after that, don’t be mistaken—Byrd has played his last down as a Buffalo Bill.
So since the start of the offseason the Bills have now lost their defensive coordinator and arguably their best player.
I largely refrain from letting emotions getting the better of me when it comes to Bills personnel decisions. I consider is my duty to bring readers information and when possible, insight. In the case, however, I got nothing positive to spin when it comes to this organization right now. Quite frankly, the fan in me is incensed.
It’s been reported the Bills made an aggressive offer to Byrd recently, which was rejected, and at that time the front office decided they wouldn’t tag Byrd, likely knowing he won’t commit to the organization long-term.
I don’t care.
Winning needs to be the single-biggest priority in Buffalo and by not locking Byrd in for at least 2014, I clearly see the opposite. You can spin it anyway you want, folks, but there’s no way the Bills are a better team without Byrd than they are with him.
“We have negotiated with representation for Jairus Byrd for more than a year, but have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension,” said Whaley on a statement released by the team. “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.”
Common sense dictates you tag Byrd even if you know you’re not keeping beyond 2014. Best case you trade him for a high draft pick. Worst case you’re stuck with a three-time Pro Bowler for one more year. Sounds pretty damn simple yet clever, no?
Even if the Bills decided to take Byrd’s money and allocate a splashy impact elsewhere via free agency, there’s no one on the market better than him. Eugene Monroe, Aqib Talib, Brandon Spikes, Eric Decker—I don’t care who it is. None are a better football player and make the team better than Byrd remaining.
For what it’s worth, Bills fans shouldn’t exclusively be sore with the front office. It takes two to tangle and it’s crystal clear that Byrd doesn’t want to be here. But to be fair, can you really blame him? He’s been with the organization for five years and has never been on a team that’s won more than six games. He’s also been through four different defensive coordinators, with Jim Schwartz becoming his fifth had he decided to stay.
The Buffalo Bills became a lesser team today… in a big way too. If you want to fool yourself into thinking the Bills still have a legit chance to retain Byrd once free agency begins, then by my guest. I’d also like to sell you your next vehicle.
As an aside, can’t wait to see how much Aaron Williams gets overpaid this offseason.