Where will Jairus Byrd land?
Where will Jairus Byrd find his next perch?
The Buffalo Bills today declined to use their franchise tag on Byrd for a second straight year, sending the three-time Pro Bowler off toward unrestricted free agency.
This shouldn't be considered a comprehensive list or used for betting purposes. But let's take a look at some potential landing spots for Byrd:
Atlanta will be an attractive destination for various free agents. The Falcons went to the NFC Championship Game the season before last, have their franchise quarterback, own the sixth overall draft choice and are expected to dump free safety Thomas DeCoud.
The Ravens had a muddled safety situation last year. They drafted Matt Elam in the first round, but he didn't seem too comfortable at free safety and might be better suited at strong safety. Adding someone like Byrd would make that decision easy and strengthen the Ravens' entire defense.
When the Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith a couple years ago, much of Smith's staff received pink slips, too. That included Byrd's father, Gill Byrd. But the Bears are a big-market team with a playoff-caliber offense and some defensive holes, especially at safety. Free safety Chris Conte was wobbly last year, and strong safety Major Wright is a free agent.
Byrd and new Browns coach Mike Pettine would know what they're signing up for. Byrd went to his third Pro Bowl in Pettine's system. For all the Browns' faults, they do have solid defensive personnel, and they're probably going to lose Pro Bowl strong safety T.J. Ward to free agency.
Remember that final scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," where the worker wheels the crate into a warehouse that stretches into oblivion? That's how much salary-cap space the Raiders have.
Philadelphia Eagles (late addition)
A Google search of "Jairus Byrd" and "Philadelphia Eagles" turns up a dearth of legitimate reports that connect the two, and the one credible news outlet that addressed the possibility -- Comcast SportNet Philly -- has two writers who predict it won't happen. But some guy on Twitter who doesn't follow me, @Richpedd1, insists the Eagles were an omission on my rundown. So here they are.
St. Louis Rams
Byrd graduated from suburban Clayton High while his father was an assistant coach with the Rams. It was there that future Hall of Fame safety Aeneas Williams took Jairus under his wing and taught him the nuances of being a football professional. Williams still lives in St. Louis and founded a church there. Byrd would be a significant upgrade over Rams free safety Rodney McLeod.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers spent big bucks last year on free-agent safety Dashon Goldson, but there already are rumblings he might not mesh with new head coach Lovie Smith's disciplined system. And guess who's on Smith's staff. Byrd's father is the cornerbacks coach.
Washington endured miserable safety play last year, and owner Daniel Snyder has a history of stuffing money into his roster's holes. Given that Byrd is considered NFL.com's top available free agent at any position, Snyder likely will be circling.