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Bills won't tag Jairus Byrd; Pro Bowl safety heading to the open market

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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.

  • bcal001

    c ya punk

  • mcattac1@msn.com

    nutz............just like the Sabres.

  • zbubble

    What do they mean by "made a difference?" Wouldn't have that made him Bills property and mean we at least can trade him for some sort of return, rather than let him walk away for nothing?
    Unreal that this organization does these things and can't figure out why it hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade.

    • B H

      Bills are saying to us dummies and hoping we believe this "don't feel comfortable that the franchise tag would've made a difference". In dummy language it means they will NOT pay what the cost would be to put the franchise tag on him and are hoping no other team will offer that much either, hence Byrd will sign with the Bills at the rate the Bills are now offering. Now in non-Bills language it means goodby Byrd and all others who want more but Da Bills are too cheap to keep.

      MAYBE one day Da Bills and Sabres will learn you can't build championships by getting rid of your best players or front office people....but I highly doubt it as history has taught us dummies.

      • Jeff in Chicago

        actually the contract was a 3-year deal that would pay him $10M the first two years. that's without incentives. Eugene Parker is one of the problems. he was Peters agent when he held out. but hey look, Peters went to PHI where he...hasn't won anything either. i'll understand the Byrd thing if he signs with a contender.

  • Ralph Phillips

    Does this mean there's no compensation? Why would you do this?

  • BuffaloFan4Life

    Amazing. So much for all that extra cap space. I don't like Byrd's "pay me the most" mentality, but on the other hand, you can't blame the guy. He's a ball hawking play making safety who has paid his dues and gone to multiple Pro Bowls. He now goes to the top of the list of UFA's available for other teams to sign while the Bills get nothing back in return. I was absolutely convinced the Bills would tag him again and then trade him away for SOMETHING over the next full year, at the very least.

    Somebody has to explain to me why Littman/Overdorff overpaid so much for Mario Williams two years ago, and have now allowed their best home grown defensive back to walk away with nothing to show for it. Doug Whaley, the Littman/Overdorff mouth piece "GM" with absolutely no say in who gets signed and who doesn't (in my opinion) just shrugged his shoulders and lamely stated; "This system is not set up where you can sign everybody." We long suffering Bills fans are not asking Kings Littman/Overdorff to sign "everybody", Doug. However is it really asking too much to ask them to re-sign the best draft choice this organization has made since Kyle Williams was drafted 9 years ago?

    • Joe D

      Hardly a "mouthpiece" GM. He allowed the info about the rift between he and the "lifers" to leak. Seems clear Whaley and Marrone want change. If anything, Russ Brandon is to blame for not canning Overdorf, et. al.

      • BuffaloFan4Life

        I didn't read that leak about the rift between Whaley and the lifers. However, don't kid yourself Joe. Brandon has no authority over Overdorf or Littman. They both answer to Ralph Wilson or Wilson's daughter, directly, in my opinion. If they didn't, I have no doubt Brandon would not have found either one necessary when Wilson named him "President." I don't blame Doug Whaley either. There are only 32 GM jobs in the NFL, and he would have been crazy to turn the title down. If anything, it builds his resume for future teams that may one day want to utilize all of his talents. I've said it before, I think Whaley would have gotten the Byrd deal done if he had full authority to do it. Again, just my opinion.

    • Harvsbuddy

      Last time I looked, Mario Williams played in the Pro Bowl and was one of the leading sackers in the league. This defense still has three pro bowlers, and at least two more potential on its defensive roster without Byrd. From what I saw last season Aaron Williams seems to have taken to the safety spot, and also showed a lot of big play potential. Let's see what the Bills spend this extra cap space on to improve in other areas, and then you can start calling for doomsday. Best draft choice since Kyle Williams? Are you saying Eric Wood, Cordy Glenn, Marcel Dareus, Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods, C.J. Spiller, E.J Manuel and Stephon Gilmore all don't have that same potential? Let's see how the rest of the off season transpires before we're calling for the end of the world. And the reason Mario Williams was signed for so much wasn't just because of his potential game performance, but to make the Bills real players again in the free agent market. Teams slot salaries to positions, and for the Bills $9 million was reasonable, but $10 million (or more) was not for a safety.

  • KING CASPER

    I think it is time for the Bills to leave. Buffalo should move on from the NFL and all its bull$hit.

    • B H

      They could play in the CFL but probably still wouldn't make the playoffs.

      • Harvsbuddy

        Why don't both of you go and follow the CFL then, and leave us real Bills fans to follow our team? I don't know if this was a good or bad move, but I do know this regime seems to have a plan and committing $10 million a season for a safety wasn't one of them. We'll be just fine with Aaron Williams and D'Norris Searcy. Good luck where ever you go, Jarius just not if you face this team.

    • Guest

      Amen AGAIN

  • Shadowtoad

    STUPIDITY by the Bills front office. Tag him! Tag him! Who cares if he takes offense. I also don't buy the bull about sending the wrong message to the other players on holding back Byrd's big payday. If the reports are correct, they offered him a big salary. Tough luck if he doesn't take it. I am sick of the fans and the reporters/talking heads on radio that you don't treat him fair if you tag him. Big deal! I am sick of this starry eyed love for these overpaid athletes by the media and their aceptance that he should be paid anything he wants. I want to Puke! (we get nothing for him!!!!!!)

    • KING CASPER

      It's too late...he's gone...who cares....they suck

  • Christopher Vincent

    He could still sign for the Bills. After being "disrespected" last year and seeing Pettine leave, no way he was taking a "hometown discount". Offer $27MM over 3 years with bonuses for making the playoffs. Sorry Bills fans, but if they had Byrd at the start of last season (he was not injured), and had Levitre as a guard, the Bills probably would have made the playoffs. Instead, they didn't spend the money.

  • Paul Bruhns

    Cya... He dogged it for the first 5 games... I saw it in his eyes. At every interview, he had the look of someone not being totally honest. It turned me off to him. He just doesn't want to be here. Yes, he's a great safety. Good luck Jairus and good bye.

  • KING CASPER

    Why do people let a multi-million dollar company rip them off? That is exactly what the Bills do! It's entertainment, but it is BAD entertainment....God I hope they leave...

    • Guest

      AMEN !

  • Richard W

    As per the usual the Bills are fishing with one eye and picking worms with the other. Who wants to stay with a team that hasn't made the playoffs since JC was a corporal.

  • Hal Jam

    Bills are smart to let Byrd walk if they don't want to tag him. He sat out half the season last year. All his comments suggest he doesn't want to be a Bill and doesn't respect the franchise. He only makes plays against bad teams, and never in close games against top competition. He's a COVER SAFETY. Not a QB. Not Mario Williams. Not worth $10m a year when they can get two good safeties for $5m. Bye-bye Birdie. Who cares.

  • Guest

    Who cares ??? The sooner the Bills leave and get off my tax bill the better... and let them take the joke Sabres with them ... these national JOKE franchises just need to go away--- we'll not only survive but THRIVE without them !

  • Shadowtoad

    Who cares.

  • BuffaloFan4Life

    No kidding. Everyone knows Byrd wants to be a free agent. But it has nothing to do with how many DC's he's played under. It has everything to do with money. If there is another NFL team more dysfunctional then Buffalo it's Cleveland right now. However, if they offer Byrd the best deal, he'll be proud to wear the orange helmet in 2014 and beyond.

  • Bill W

    I second your comment...who gives a s#!@ about another whiney pro athlete who's in it for just the bucks. Good riddance, Pro-Bowl or not...by the way, is the Pro Bowl still an honor? After watching some of those games, it's nothing more than an earned vacation to Hawaii.

  • Paul Bruhns

    It's more than money, it's gotta be personal by this point. Byrd can get close enough to TOP money from any team in the league. According to Doug Whaley, they have been floating deals to the Byrd camp for the past year. I get the sense there is just too much bad blood between them, regardless of the cash. Would you want your wife/GF/Other to stay if she wasn't in love with you? See ya, and good luck, Jairus

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.