The Buffalo Bills are not close to signing safety Jairus Byrd. No contract talks have been scheduled, and there’s no understanding between the sides that they’ll talk any time soon.
That’s what a source close to the situation told The Buffalo News on Monday, one week before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to negotiate multiyear contracts.
Byrd and Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Clady are the NFL’s last two unsigned franchise players. The Denver Post reported over the weekend that negotiations between the Broncos and Clady’s agent would resume this week.
No such talks are expected between the Bills and Byrd’s agent, Eugene Parker.
Once the July 15 deadline passes, franchise players can sign for only one year, and they aren’t allowed to renegotiate that contract until the season is over.
Reports about the July 15 deadline have been misleading.
Missing the deadline would not force Byrd to sign for the franchise-tag figure of $6.916 million for safeties; he could sign for more or less than that figure.
Missing the deadline also would not compel Byrd to report for training camp or even regular-season games.
Byrd is a free agent without a contract. He’s not obligated to report for any team activities.
In fact, he still could sign an offer sheet with another team. That’s highly unlikely because the Bills would have the right of first refusal. If the Bills didn’t match, then they would receive first- and third-round draft choices as compensation – a steep price for another club to obtain a safety.
If Byrd wants to play this year and get credited with an accrued season toward his pension and other NFL benefits, then he must sign by 4 p.m. Nov. 12 (the Tuesday after Week 10, as spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement).
Otherwise, he will be ineligible until the 2014 season.
Byrd emerged as one of the NFL’s elite safeties last season. He made his second Pro Bowl after leading the Bills with five interceptions and four forced fumbles. He tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries.
Since he entered the NFL in 2009, he’s tied for third in league-wide interceptions with 18 – behind only Asante Samuel and Charles Woodson.
Byrd would be Buffalo’s top returning tackler. He made 76 tackles, including five for losses, last year.