Jairus Byrd remains the headline news for the Buffalo Bills this morning, with a report coming down Monday afternoon that no progress has been made towards a long-term contract extension - and that no negotiations are (yet) scheduled for this week.
As the debate rages on about whether or not the Bills are right to play hardball with one of their best players, it's important, to some degree, to keep in mind that the team will have have important free agents to try to retain over the next couple of off-seasons. In particular, there are three names to keep an eye on:
Spiller's rookie contract, signed in August of 2010, was reported as a five-year deal, keeping him under contract through the end of the 2014 season. It's actually a six-year deal - NFLPA records have him on the books through the end of the 2015 season - but Spiller will have the option to void the sixth year, meaning that he really only has two more seasons on his current deal. If Spiller reaches the level of star power that many fans expect him to this year, he's going to cost a ton of money to retain.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft is only entering his third season, but the Bills will have an important decision to make on his contract next off-season. His fully guaranteed four-year deal has a fifth-year club option that must be exercised after the third year of the contract - and that option will pay Dareus the value of the current league year's transition tag number at his position (which was $6.919 million this year). Unless the Bills trigger that fifth-year option, Spiller and Dareus could hit free agency at the same time.
Before we even get to Spiller and Dareus, however, the Bills have another big contract coming up next spring in the form of Wood, the team's starting center for two (going on three) years. He'll make $2.3 million in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, and if he can play more consistently and stay healthy this season, he could command a good chunk of coin to remain in the pivot of the Bills' re-tooling offensive line.
The list of other players up for new deals in the next two off-seasons, of course, is far more extensive than just these three names. Scott Chandler, Alex Carrington, Alan Branch and Bryan Scott could all see varying levels of interest from the Bills when they become free agents next off-season depending on how they play in 2013. The following off-season's list is far bigger: Kevin Kolb, Fred Jackson, Chris Hairston, Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Shawn Powell and Garrison Sanborn are all scheduled for free agency, among several others that could potentially snag bigger roles than expected in the next year or two.
Beyond Byrd, however, the most pressing issue is Wood's contract expiring next off-season - so we'll leave it up to you to decide how much priority the Bills should place on these contracts when trying to figure out what to do to keep Byrd.