NFL teams that plan on using the franchise tag must do so by close of business on Monday, March 4, meaning that this weekend will be a big one for Jairus Byrd and the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills met with the agent for Byrd - widely regarded as the best free agent safety available this off-season - at the 2013 NFL Combine last week in Indianapolis, but there haven't been any meaningful updates on any type of progress made in the days since. Buffalo would like to get Byrd signed to a long-term contract extension before free agency begins; if they don't, it's universally anticipated that they'll use the franchise tag to prevent Byrd from hitting the open market.
With the NFL confirming a $123 million salary cap to teams on Thursday evening, the franchise tag figure for safeties is now concrete, as well: if the Bills tag Byrd and he signs the tender without agreeing to a long-term deal, he'll make $6.916 million in 2013.
The clock is ticking, however, for the two sides to agree to a multi-year extension. If the Bills are forced to use the tag on Monday, they'll be sure of keeping Byrd around, but it may complicate the negotiation process - particularly if Byrd is keen on testing the proverbial waters. Ideally, we'll hear of a contract extension this weekend; if not, we'll be talking about the tag on Monday.