While reports circulate that the Buffalo Bills are unlikely to franchise tag free safety Jairus Byrd - and the general sentiment holds that Byrd will be leaving the Bills as an unrestricted free agent - it's worth pointing out that other reports are surfacing, detailing what the Bills are trying in their effort to re-sign the star safety.
WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia first reported that the Bills had made a "substantial offer" to Byrd. Without context, that doesn't mean much, but Jason La Canfora (CBS) and Ian Rapoport (NFL.com) have provided that context.
Bills made Jairus Byrd an offer that would’ve made him highest paid S for a portion of his deal. Was rejected. Team still wants to sign him— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2014
The Bills offer to Byrd woulve made him 1 of highest paid safeties in the NFL in 1st 2 yrs of deal. They'll continue to work on a new deal— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 2, 2014
John Wawrow of The Associated Press (as well as others) took it a step further, reporting that the Bills' most recent offer would've paid Byrd $30 million in the first three years of the deal.
That news alone is noteworthy, because Buffalo was completely unwilling to pay Byrd as the league's top safety last year - when they had significantly more leverage on the franchise tag front. The team's unwillingness to pay Byrd top dollar through the life of the deal, however, seems to be behind his reluctance to accept an offer from the team that made him a second-round pick in 2009.
If the Bills and Byrd don’t reach a deal by Monday, it doesn’t rule out a deal before the FA period. Stay tuned— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2014
If and when the franchise tag deadline passes (tomorrow, March 3, at 4PM ET), the Bills will still have a little over a week with which they can negotiate with Byrd in the hopes of landing a long-term deal. They're not out of the game yet - but if that deadline passes, any shred of leverage they still have will be gone completely, and Byrd and agent Eugene Parker will likely rebuff any last-minute offers to see what Byrd can fetch on the open market.