Jairus Byrd contract: Bills and safety haven't made progress on new deal

Norm Hall

The Buffalo Bills haven't made any recent progress in getting safety Jairus Byrd signed to an extension, according to a report.

The Buffalo Bills and safety Jairus Byrd haven't made much progress on a possible long-term contract, according to James Walker of ESPN.com. "All has been quiet on both sides," according to the report, and there's cause for concern given that the deadline to sign franchise-tagged players to long-term deals is July 15.

Buffalo would have to get Byrd signed to an extension by that date, otherwise they will be unable to negotiate with the Pro Bowl safety until after the season has ended. If Byrd plays under the franchise tag, he'll be due $6.9 million for the 2013 season.

Getting a contract done in this short amount of time isn't exactly impossible. Contracts can be worked through in quick fashion when they need to be, so there's no reason to panic at this point, Bills fans.

Over the course of his first four seasons in the league, Byrd has managed to register 18 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 308 combined tackles. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Byrd has played in all but two games with the Bills.

Byrd is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, in 2009 and 2012. He also was an All-Pro in both years, and managed to snag the AFC interception lead in both seasons as well. On top of all of this, Byrd is just 26 years old, so he appears in prime position to earn a big contract. He has grown into one of the premier defensive backs in the NFL and it would be a big loss for the Bills if he were to walk after the 2013 season.

Opposing quarterbacks posted a passer rating of just 56.9 percent while targeting Byrd last season. You don't hear his name called often, but that could be due to the fact that he was targeted just 21 times by opposing passers. Of those 21 pass attempts, Byrd snagged five interceptions and batted down six passes.

There's no reason to assume that Byrd deserves any less than what the top safeties have received on the market, and there's no reason to assume that Byrd is asking for anything less than that. Dashon Goldson is the most recent player to sign a big contract, as he hit the open market after making a pair of Pro Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.

Goldson received a five-year, $41.25 million contract with $18 million guaranteed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers were unwilling to pay Goldson that much, and while some might believe his play hasn't lived up to that number, it's the most recent benchmark for Byrd.

There's also the contract that Eric Weddle signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2011. Weddle signed a five-year, $40 million contract with $19 million guaranteed. However, Weddle was decent last season and has talked about possibly restructuring his deal, but that's more to help the Chargers and doesn't have anything to do with his play on the field.

Byrd isn't as well-known as either player, but he's arguably better. Eric Berry is earning the most money of any safety, but he's still on the deal he was given before the rookie wage scale was in place, so his six-year, $60 million contract with a whopping $34 million guaranteed isn't much to go on. To be fair though, he is one of the better safeties in the league.

Realistically, Byrd should be looking for something in the realm of Goldson's and Weddle's contracts. Byrd has made it clear that he wants the best situation for himself, so it's likely he'll use his pending free agency as a means to get the Bills to pay him what he wants, otherwise he could be looking to join a team closer to contention next year.

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