With all of the Rumblings recently about Byrd and his contract situation, I thought I would go over some of the scenarios that could play out this summer and beyond.
The only date to really care about now is July 15th. That is the deadline for Franchise tag players to sign a long term deal.
Here are the options that Byrd has between now and then:
- Sign the Franchise tender, which is 1 year for $6.916 million.
- Work out a long term deal
- The Bills could allow him to work out a deal with another team
In this scenario, if Byrd were to work out a deal with another team, the Bills and that team would likely have a trade already in place. Byrd would then sign his Franchise tender with the Bills and the Bills would then trade him to the team that he agreed to a contract with.
Here are Byrd's options after the July 15th deadline:
- Sign the franchise tender
Really, that is his only option. Of course he can choose not to sign it but it's really only a matter of when he decides to sign it and not an if scenario. Byrd has two cards in his pocket at this point. The first is that he could holdout. However, he must play at least 6 games to accrue an NFL season. If he holds out more than 10 games into the season, he will be kept in a holding pattern with the Bills. The other card in his pocket is to sign the Franchise tender with a clause that states that the Bills can not apply the Franchise tag to him next year. If you remember, this is what happened with Nate Clements. If there is no such provision in his contract, the Bills and Byrd could play the same game again next year. Byrd would be set to become a UFA and the Bills could prevent that by either signing him to a long term deal or placing the Franchise tag on him again. His franchise tender would then be $7.9428 million (a 120% increase). This scenario could likely play out one more year after that as well. Players can be franchised a maximum of 3 years. If it unfolded into a 3rd year his franchise number would be $11,437,632 ( a 144% increase).
A look into past Franchise tag players
To give us all a little perspective, I decided to look back on the past 2 years and the scenarios that unfolded for players that were tagged under the Franchise label. In 2012, 21 players were Franchised. Of those 21 players:
- 12/21 (57.1%) signed long term deals. There were 5 Kickers, 1 Punter and 1 QB that got franchised. I want to remove those players as they are not really comparable to Byrd's situation. That leaves us with 14 players.
- 11/14 of those players were coming off of their rookie contracts. I want to focus on these players as they compare favorably to Byrd's situation.
- 11/11 (100%) played with their team
- 6/11 (54.5%) re-signed to long term deals.
- 3*/5 (60.0%) re-signed with their teams in 2013. *Anthony Spencer has been Franchised a second time.
- 2/11 (18.2%) are playing with new teams in 2013
Judging from the franchised players in 2012, it is very likely that Byrd will be back with the team this year and next year as well. The two teams that chose not to re-sign their young Franchised players from 2012, the 49ers and the Lions, were both pressed against the salary cap this off-season.
If we take a look back to the 2011 list of Franchised players, there were 14 franchised players and 9 were coming off of their rookie deals. Also, Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson were coming off of a year of being restricted free agents due to the expiration of the CBA. They were none too pleased about this as they had to play under some cheap deals due to this circumstance. We can include them to make 11/14 players. Still, 10/11 (90.9%) eventually signed long term deals with the team that Franchised them. Jackson being the lone exception. Still, he played the minimum 6 games to accrue an NFL season with the team that Franchised him.
I know this is only 2 years of Franchise tag players and I'd go back further to take a look, but it's really hard to compare due to the new CBA. I think if I were to go back and take a look, we would find very similar numbers. To recap, in the past two years there were a total of 22 players coming off of their rookie deals that were Franchised (including Mankins and Jackson) and 19/22 (86.3%) either signed new long term deals with their team or were Franchised a second year. The players who were not seem to be exceptions to the norm.
I would assume that there is going to be a lot of back-and-forth between Byrd's agent (Eugene Parker) and the Bills. Parker's likely starting point for negotiations would be to look at his Franchise numbers for this year and the following 2 years ($6,916,000 +$7,942,800 + $11,437,632). If Byrd were to be Franchised in these 3 years he would receive $26,296,432 and it would be fully guaranteed. That breaks down to an average of $8,765,477 per year. Keep in mind that if Byrd chose not to sign a long-term deal and was Franchised each of the next 2 years, he would be risking injury (which equals money). The Bills can use this as a leverage point to lower Parker's asking price.
The rest is all pure speculation. I am thinking that Byrd and the Bills could agree to a long-term deal that pays him an average of $8 million per year. I am both hopeful and optimistic that a deal will get done, either this year or next. In my mind it would be foolish for the Bills to put in a clause that would prohibit Byrd from becoming a Franchise tag recipient next year. Byrd may want to see how the new defense and team looks under the new regime. I do not blame him if he took this approach.
As always thanks for reading and I would like to thank Stetz for asking me to do this fanpost. I really hope it calms down a lot of Rumblers that are concerned that Byrd may be leaving. I just don't see it as a likely scenario, especially before the upcoming season. It's a wait and see game for now though...
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comment section below!