Posted July 15, 2013

Jairus Byrd reportedly ‘demanding’ to be NFL’s highest paid safety

AFC East, Buffalo Bills
Jairus Byrd has 18 career interceptions for the Buffalo Bills, spread over four seasons.

Jairus Byrd (right) has 18 career interceptions for the Bills, spread over four seasons. (Gary Wiepert/AP)

UPDATE: The franchise tag negotiation deadline came and went without Byrd signing a long-term deal.


Jairus Byrd had perhaps the most contentious situation of the eight players facing Monday’s franchise tag negotiation deadline. The sticking point for Buffalo, as reported by WGRZ’s Adam Benigni: Byrd is “demanding to be [the] highest paid safety” in the NFL.

That honor currently belongs to seven-time Pro Bowler and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, who clocks in with an average salary of approximately $9.125 million per season. Given some recent contracts at the safety spot, including Dashon Goldson’s five-year deal in Tampa Bay worth $8.25 per year with $22 million guaranteed, Byrd’s request may not be all that unreasonable.

He is, after all, just 26 years old (he’ll turn 27 in October) and coming off a season in which he picked off five passes, knocked down six and forced four fumbles. Byrd also rated as the No. 2 safety in the league for the 2012 season, per Pro Football Focus.

The Bills can ill afford to lose him, either, so talks of a potential holdout ought to make them nervous — Byrd has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender of $6.916 million. Buffalo did use a pair of late-round draft picks on safeties, Nevada’s Duke Williams and Clemson’s Jonathan Meeks, but neither they nor third-year player Aaron Williams would come anywhere close to filling Byrd’s shoes.

In addition to concerns over the finances, though, Buffalo reportedly wants to see how Byrd plays in new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. While that’s somewhat understandable, the delay certainly qualifies as a gamble for the Bills. A holdout by a disgruntled Byrd would put him behind the 8-ball with the new defense, while another impressive year from the 2009 Pro Bowler could price him out of Buffalo’s comfort zone.

The latter scenario — Byrd continuing to perform at an elite level under the tag tender — would make the Bills’ situation an even stickier one come next offseason. Would Byrd, after not receiving the contract he desired, be inclined to bolt for big money elsewhere? Or would Buffalo franchise tag him for a second time, at a further-elevated price?

These are the difficult waters any team must tread when a player goes through a year under the franchise tag. But the Bills are facing some significant ramifications, both salary-wise and in terms of Byrd’s desire to stick around, if they opt not to pay up Monday.

Byrd performed like one of the NFL’s top safeties in 2012. One way or another, he seems determined to be rewarded.

7 comments
Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I always chafe when players 'demand' this or that. But owners will throw you under the bus in a second if they think they have somebody better so I can't blame him. He has to get all he can while he has the leverage.

NWBill
NWBill

Negotiate with him by promising not to tag him again NEXT year if he signs THIS years' tag sheet and comes to camp - along with a promise to fully negotiate a new contract at the end of the season. I think Buffalo's desire to see if he'll play well in the new defense is perfectly reasonable; and it should be a demo point advantage for Jairus to show that he can excel, no matter what system is being employed. That would mean MORE money for him in the next contract, not LESS.

But, if this is all about money and the pride of being THE highest paid safety, then I'd say bye bye Byrd - and move on. Buffalo's not going to give him what he wants on that basis; this has to be fair and practical for BOTH sides, not just Byrd's wallet.

PigglyWinks
PigglyWinks

Show up to camp. Take all 1st team reps. Start the season as usual. Then at the half way mark, sit out. See how the team does since all the backups haven't gotten 1st team reps. You get an extended bye week.


If the team tanks, they resign you quickly, if not, you marked enough time to qualify for the season in terms of work performed and you a FA.


I don't get sitting out at the start, which gets you out of shape and allows your backups the chance to get all the 1st team reps. Do it later, when the chances of them filling in are less, and you still qualify for time played if you play the 1st 8 weeks, rather than showing up for the last 8 weeks.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

There is not a corner or safety in the league worth the money the top five at each position are getting paid. The Bills should tell him to shut up and play. Then try and find a team dumb enough to trade for him. No player on the defense of a 6 and 10 team that gave up 435 points should be mouthing off about wanting more money.

NWBill
NWBill

@PigglyWinks Your plan makes it all about Byrd - not the team and his teammates at all. That's a pretty high level of selfishness, if he does what you suggest. Do you think other teams won't notice that behavior, and adjust their interest (and offer) accordingly? That kind of action shows a player who has the potential to be a head case or headache for a team - and I don't know too many GMs who are going to throw money into a situation like that. Byrd has to be sensitive to the fact that other teams ARE watching both he and Buffalo's behavior through all this - and rep is everything in this league.

DAN B1
DAN B1

@NWBill @PigglyWinks also you forget to factor in any injury.  If he gets injured he gets nothing, which is a huge risk to take.  Also, if your teammates brand you as selfish -- some take shots at you in practice.  If you were him wouldn't you like to have your guaranteed money up front?  I sure would, it would give me peace of mind.