In the least surprising development of the entire offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported first the Buffalo Bills have used their franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd.
The team confirmed the franchise designation shortly after Schefter’s report.
Once he signs the tag, Byrd is guaranteed $6.9 million for the 2013 seasons. Of course, the teams can continue to negotiate a long term deal, though tagging Byrd now when they had until Monday may indicate the sides aren’t very close on an agreeable extension.
Byrd is arguably Buffalo’s best player and there was no way Buddy Nix was just going to let him test free agency. Byrd has 18 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in 62 career games since being drafted in the second-round in 2008. He’s earned two Pro Bowl nods in four seasons and would’ve likely been the most sought after safety in free agency when it begins on March 12.
Byrd is the first Buffalo Bills player to get franchise tagged since the team used it on cornerback Nate Clements in 2006. He would parlay that tag into an eight-year, $80 million deal including $22 million guaranteed the next season with the San Francisco 49ers.