Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd may have played his final game in a Buffalo Bills uniform yesterday, and his teammates are planning accordingly. Meanwhile, GM Doug Whaley was diplomatic about the forthcoming negotiation between the Bills and agent Eugene Parker regarding Byrd, stating only that the team would make an offer to the safety - and that the franchise tag is on the table if they need it.
"We've had a conversation - myself and (Russ Brandon) - sat and talked to Jairus, and we're gonna make an offer to the guy and we're gonna try to keep him," Whaley said Monday. "We're gonna try to the best of our abilities, because we're in the business of collecting good players, and he's a good player."
Aaron Williams, a three-year teammate of Byrd's who moved to safety and had a career year in 2013, left a signed jersey with a farewell message in Byrd's locker today, a photo of which the Bills tweeted during locker clean-out day.
Aaron Williams hung this jersey in Jairus Byrd's locker. pic.twitter.com/yls2Zfi5Am— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) December 30, 2013
Williams to Byrd: "To Byrd Man: Preciate everything you've done for us. Wish you the best of luck. Always ball it out for Jesus. Phil 4:6"— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) December 30, 2013
Byrd was not present for the three-hour period that team reporters had access to the Bills' locker room today, so it's unlikely that we'll see any quotes from the free agent-to-be as the offseason begins. He left yesterday's Week 17 loss to New England early with an ankle injury, then took to Twitter following the game to reflect on his season.
All things happen for a reason... Learning and growing all the time.— jairus byrd (@jairusbyrd) December 30, 2013
I'm so thankful that I had the privilege to play with this secondary and be coached by Donnie Henderson...Blessed— jairus byrd (@jairusbyrd) December 30, 2013
I also appreciate you fans, you all have been great during my time here.— jairus byrd (@jairusbyrd) December 30, 2013
If, for whatever reason, you're not up to speed on all that has occurred between Byrd and the Bills within the past calendar year, you can catch up on the contract impasse and ill will in our dedicated StoryStream. Byrd himself has noted that the Bills still have the option to prevent him from reaching unrestricted free agency this year by applying the franchise tag again; if they choose that route, it'll cost them $8.3 million, as opposed to the $6.9 million it cost them in 2013.
NFL teams can use the franchise tag starting on February 17, 2014, with a deadline of 4PM to use the tag on March 3. Unless the Bills and Byrd can work out a long-term agreement by then, the Bills will choose between franchising Byrd or letting him walk.