The Buffalo Bills will not use their franchise tag on Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, and he will become a free agent.
The Bills tried to sign Byrd to a multiyear extension over the weekend but couldn't make enough headway to feel comfortable that the franchise tag would've made a difference.
The Bills still can re-sign Byrd. Other teams aren't allowed to negotiate with Byrd's agent, Eugene Parker, until Saturday and can't sign him until March 11.
But a league source told The Buffalo News that Byrd won't sign any deals until he sees what other teams will offer.
NFL.com ranks Byrd the top unrestricted free agent in this year's class. Analytics site ProFootballFocus.com ranks Byrd second overall behind Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
Had Byrd returned, he would've played under his fifth defensive coordinator in six NFL seasons. Each of Byrd's three Pro Bowl seasons was with a different coordinator.
In 11 games for the Bills last year, Byrd recorded 48 tackles, one for a loss, a sack, four interceptions and a forced fumble.