Bills and Byrd: Contract information often misleading until all terms known
Updated 12:38 PM , June 23, 2015
A day before the franchise-tag deadline, reports claim the Buffalo Bills have offered to make Jairus Byrd the NFL's highest-paid safety.
Fans, as to be expected, feel jilted. How could Byrd turn down such a handsome offer?
I'm not going to pretend to know what the Bills offered Byrd, but I can tell you this:
Teams and agents can make a contract appear as sensational or as conservative as they want, and while it may look like the Bills shot for the moon to retain Byrd, information so far is incomplete and borderline pointless.
NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport and CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora each tweeted within 10 minutes of each other this afternoon that part of the Bills' contract offer to Byrd would've made the three-time Bowler among the highest-paid safeties.
La Canfora tweeted the first two years would've made Byrd one of the highest-paid. Rapoport tweeted Byrd would've been the highest-paid "for a portion of his deal."
If the entire contract was so attractive, then the media wouldn't be reporting partial details.
And what's missing is the most critical bit of NFL contract information, the guaranteed money.
Which reminds me about the numbers that were wafting around last year. The Bills told some outlets they offered Byrd a contract that would've made him one of the NFL's three highest-paid safeties.
That sounds impressive. Again, it's hollow info.
Here's what I wrote last July, when the Bills and Byrd's agent, Eugene Parker, failed to reach terms on a multiyear contract extension:
Being the "highest-paid this" or among the "top three highest-paid that" is meaningless unless you know how the Bills or Parker define "highest-paid."
Highest-paid based on total dollars? Highest-paid based on average salary? Highest-paid based on guaranteed money? Highest-paid based on 2013 salary or dollars at the end of contract?
How many years are in the offer? Is the contract front-loaded, so the player gets most of his base-salary money early? Is the contract back-loaded, so the team can cut the player before they pay him some of his larger base salaries?
The only time all of this information becomes known is when a signed contract is registered with the NFL and the players' association.
NFL contracts aren't fully guaranteed like they are in the NHL. Teams can end them whenever they want, usually before a big-money bonus is due to be paid.
Also, contract objectives usually come down to what the player deems more important. Maybe he wants big money now, but usually he wants security with his second contract and prefers more years.
Byrd will be 27 years old when the next season begins. He's two years younger than Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson, who signed a five-year contract last offseason worth $41.25 million and $22 million in guarantees.
Byrd has been to three Pro Bowls, including last season. Goldson has been to two, but didn't make it last season. Byrd has 22 interceptions (seven more than Goldson), 11 forced fumbles (four more than Goldson) and five recoveries (same number as Goldson) in 73 career games (21 fewer than Goldson).
For those into where players' salaries rank, Goldson went into last season as the third highest-paid safety behind Troy Polamalu and Eric Berry based on average salary.
WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia (he had much of the news first) and La Canfora also have reported the Bills will not use the franchise tag on Byrd now.
That makes sense if the Bills feel like they've made a valiant effort and have received feedback that a long-term deal with their star safety isn't going to happen.
A few weeks back, I wrote an analysis on the Bills' franchise tag and whether they would use it on Byrd. There are legitimate reasons for the tag and against it.
I and other reporters tweeted last week from the NFL scouting combine the Bills would use their franchise tag on Byrd if the sides couldn't reach terms by Monday's deadline, but that sentiment seems to have dried up.