Things between the Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd have been so acrimonious for so long that it was a bit jarring when Tim Graham of The Buffalo News tweeted the following on Thursday evening:
Two sources tell me Bills/Jairus Byrd contract talks have been pleasant so far, a departure from last year at this time.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) February 28, 2014
This is particularly noteworthy because the Bills will need to decide whether or not they're going to use the franchise tag on Byrd by 4PM ET on Monday, March 3. That gives the Bills and Byrd's agent, Eugene Parker, just under four days to make as much progress in negotiations before a tag decision is made.
Graham correctly points out that the improved mood of this year's talks, while good news, does not necessarily mean that a deal is likely any time soon. If the Bills can't sign Byrd to a long-term deal before Monday's tag deadline, it's highly likely that negotiations will taper off until later this summer, when a July 15 deadline for tagged players to sign multi-year extensions will come into play.
These next three-plus days are critical for both sides. If things remain even mostly pleasant throughout that time frame - even if no final accord is struck prior to the tag deadline - the long-term prognosis of Byrd's future in Buffalo will look significantly different than it did even this morning. Then again, as we saw last year, things could also go south quickly, as well.