This hardly qualifies as a surprise, but Tim Graham of the Buffalo News is reporting what nearly every fan was expecting. Graham cites multiple sources that say Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl free safety Jairus Byrd will not be reporting to St. John’s Fisher this weekend when the team begins training camp.
Although Byrd won’t be present as things currently stand, he can’t be fined by the team and is technically not holding out because he’s not actually under contract. Byrd has yet to sign this franchise tender placed on him by the team in April valued at $6.19 million.
Sources: Jairus Byrd won't report for training camp this weekend http://t.co/k1EncWofle
— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) July 25, 2013
As Graham states in his report, the Bills would obviously prefer to have Byrd for camp but there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen before the team breaks camp on August 21.
If Byrd doesn’t sign and join the team before the September 8 season opener against New England, he will start missing out on game checks.
My Take: The whole Byrd situation is a debacle. In my opinion the Bills dropped the ball by not making Byrd the highest paid free safety in the league, which reports indicate agent Eugene Parker was looking for. Byrd has been in the league for four years, has picked off 18 passes, is the team’s best open field tackler and defender, and has two Pro Bowls to show for it. He’s also just beginning to enter the prime years of his playing career.
The position many fans and media—apparently as well as the team take that the safety position isn’t that highly valued by this organization is downright laughable. Byrd is a playmaker and far and away the best defender on this team, and that includes Mario Williams. He’s among the best in the league at what he does and coupled with his age, plenty of salary cap maneuverability and the team’s overall lack of talent, It’s preposterous the front office played a financial game of chicken with an elite player.
Also, don’t think Byrd’s absence over money doesn’t affect some teammates perception of the organization negatively. If they’re not willing to pay Byrd the big bucks, I wonder what that says for Eric Wood’s future after this season.
Anyway you look at it, I think the Bills struck out playing hardball with Byrd this offseason… and may really regret it when he’s playing elsewhere in 2014, where he’ll be rightfully be regarded as one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL.