Yesterday, the Buffalo Bills kept their clear-cut top priority this offseason by slapping the franchise tag on star free safety Jairus Byrd. The league’s premier FS, Byrd is arguably the best player on the Bills and his importance to the team is at its highest after the Bills decision to release veteran strong safety George Wilson. According to the team’s official site, the Bills gave Byrd the non-exclusive franchise tag.
The Bills stated that they would only use the franchise tag as a last-resort, which made some wonder a bit about the prospects of Byrd hitting the free agent market. But the Bills decided to play it safe and give Byrd the $6.9 million tag, because, again, he is an obvious priority and somewhat guaranteeing him staying on the team should also be a priority. I expect both teams to agree on a deal.
I say “somewhat”, because the tag is non-exclusive. This means that a team can try to sign Jairus Byrd to an offer sheet, which the Bills have a chance at matching. It is impossible to envision a team actually trying to pry away Byrd, because signing a player who is under the non-exclusive tag costs two first-round picks. Byrd is an extremely talented player, but even he isn’t worth the price of two first-round choices to the most safety-needing team out there.
Byrd will be staying in Buffalo, and I am sure a long-term deal will be accomplished at some point. He has a great mix of ball-hawking ability, sound coverage skills, and youth that makes him one of the game’s best players on defense.
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