The Buffalo Bills and two-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd have not patched up their differences.
Free agents who received their club’s franchise-tag designation had until 4 p.m. to reach terms on a multiyear contract.
The Bills and their franchised player did not.
Byrd, who did not want the franchise tag and the restrictions that go along with it, now may sign only a one-year contract and would not be permitted to renegotiate that deal until after the 2013 season.
“We worked very hard to come to a long-term agreement with Jairus, but unfortunately, were unable to reach one before today’s deadline,” Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said in a statement released by the club. “Our attention will now be focused on a one-year agreement with him and on training camp with our continued efforts to prepare our team for the upcoming season.”
Byrd and his agent, Eugene Parker, declined interview requests Monday from The Buffalo News.
Sources close to the situation told The News the parties did not speak Monday and didn’t have any talks last week.
The next date for the Bills to watch is July 26, when players report to St. John Fisher for training camp. Without a contract, however, Byrd won’t be there and can’t be fined for missing practices or preseason games.
Perhaps the more important deadline for Byrd will be the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots. That’s when Byrd would start missing game checks. Players don’t get paid until then.
But without a contract Byrd doesn’t have to show up for opening day either.
If Byrd wants to play this year and get credited with an accrued season toward next year’s free agency and other NFL benefits, then he won’t have to sign until 4 p.m. Nov. 12. Otherwise, he will be ineligible until the 2014 season.
The franchise tag lets a team limit one unrestricted free agent each year by offering a guaranteed, one-year qualifying offer at no less than the average salary of the five highest-paid players at his position in 2012.
The franchise tag for safeties this year is $6.916 million. That would put Byrd seventh among all NFL safeties in average annual salary.
Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu averages $9.125 million followed by Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry at $8.34 million, Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson at $8.25 million, San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle at $8 million, New York Giants free safety Antrel Rolle at $7.4 million and Tennessee Titans free safety Michael Griffin at $7 million.
Goldson’s deal is germane because it was signed in March. His four-year deal is worth $41.25 million with $22 million in guarantees.
Goldson and Byrd have been to two Pro Bowls apiece. But Goldson played two more seasons on a far superior San Francisco 49ers defense and has four fewer interceptions, four fewer forced fumbles and one fewer fumble recovery than Byrd has in his career.