Still, Buffalo Bills fans must’ve been hoping for a surprise development regarding Jairus Byrd’s status this weekend.
The Bills and Byrd have not made progress on a new contract, and he will not report to St. John Fisher College for the start of training camp, two sources with knowledge of the stalemate told The Buffalo News.
Players will begin arriving at St. John Fisher today and must report by Saturday. The first practice is Sunday night.
Byrd, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, technically isn’t staging a holdout and cannot be fined for missing practices because he’s not under contract. He’s the last of eight NFL players to have not signed his franchise tag.
The Bills and Byrd already missed the July 15 deadline for franchised players to negotiate multiyear contract extensions. He now may sign only a one-year deal.
A key issue preventing Byrd from signing could be his desire for a no-franchise clause, which would prohibit the Bills from franchising him again next year. The Bills gave cornerback Nate Clements a no-franchise guarantee in 2006, clearing the way for him to sign with the San Francisco 49ers the next year.
While the Bills would prefer to have Byrd at St. John Fisher and learning new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s playbook, that might not happen before the team breaks camp Aug. 21.
Byrd would, however, begin to miss out on weekly game checks if he’s not under contract before the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New England Patriots. Players do not get paid until then.
Byrd has until Nov. 12 to sign a contract and still receive credit for a season toward free agency, his pension and other NFL benefits. If he doesn’t sign by that deadline, then he will be ineligible to play until the 2014 season.
The franchise tag for safeties is one year for $6.916 million guaranteed. That would rank Byrd seventh among all NFL safeties in average annual salary, but he wanted the open market to dictate his worth.
The franchise tag prevented Byrd from exploring unrestricted free agency.
But the Bills likely wouldn’t have been able to compete with other teams for his services and would have lost their star defender altogether had they not franchised him.
Byrd made his second Pro Bowl last season. He led the Bills with five interceptions and four forced fumbles. He tied for the team lead with two fumble recoveries.
He would be Buffalo’s top returning tackler this year. He made 76 tackles, including five for losses.