The free agent dominos are starting to fall, but not in the way you’d expect. Teams have until Sunday March 4th to decide whether or not they want to use their franchise tag to keep an exiting free agent and a few teams are beginning to do that very thing. Jairus Byrd was going to be the top safety available in the market this offseason, but the Buffalo Bills have placed their franchise tag on him.
Bills are placing franchise tag on S Jairus Byrd.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2013
Bills fans are going to be happy Byrd is sticking around, but the two sides now need to work out a long term contract in order to avoid going through this all over again next season. Byrd is considered one of the best young safeties in the NFL today, as he gave up just 0.28 yards per snap in coverage, intercepted five passes and wasn’t beaten for any touchdowns in 2012. Safety is a coveted position in the NFL and Byrd is one of the best in the game today.
He’s just 26 years old too, which adds to the incentive of locking him up long term. Byrd will have a base salary of $6.9 million in 2013 if he signs the Bills tender, but the hope is that a long term contract can be worked out before then, as the possibility of a holdout is always possible.
However, the franchise tag ensures that no other team will be signing Byrd which means the Bills have exclusive negotiation rights with their safety. Besides, there’s no way Byrd holds out on $6.9 for a single season, especially at age 26.