Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills tag Jairus Byrd

The Buffalo Bills planned on using their franchise tag as only a last resort, so evidently things were getting desperate for the Bills with regards to Jairus Byrd. Probably the best free safety in the game today, Byrd was absolutely dominant last season, and the need to keep Byrd rose after the Bills decision to release strong safety George Wilson. The Bills likely did as much as possible to bring Byrd in on a long-term deal, and it sounds like not much progress was made. The team has essentially guaranteed that their clear priority free agent this offseason will remain, and losing Byrd would have been a travesty.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Buffalo Bills have placed the franchise tag on their elite safety. Byrd will make $6.9 million in 2013 under the tag, which is actually an affordable price for a player of Byrd’s caliber. The ball-hawking, shutdown covering FS picked off five passes last season, and quarterbacks are extremely leery about taking deep shots with Byrd patrolling the secondary.

Jairus Byrd is now officially off the market, and the Bills and Byrd have until mid-July to get a long-term deal done. I’m sure they will, because the Bills fully realize just how important Byrd is to the success of their team. The move to franchise Byrd was, quite honestly, an obvious decision, even for a team that wanted to take a more conservative approach with the use of the franchise tag.

Some wondered if the 26-year-old (I can’t believe he’s that young) wanted to test his value on the open market, and I wouldn’t blame him given his value and what he would command as a free agent and the best FS in the NFL. Byrd will instead get a cheap franchise tag deal, and you can bet that he will want to get a long-term deal done with Buffalo. The Bills and Byrd, by the way, only started negotiating at the Combine so I’m guessing not enough progress was made in those few days.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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