Bills want to re-sign Jairus Byrd

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Contract negotiations went sour last offseason when Buffalo refused to sign its Pro Bowl safety to a long-term deal. It seems they've changed their tune this time around, but will Byrd want to come back?

The Buffalo Bills had the choice to lock down safety Jairus Byrd with a long-term contract last offseason and didn't. After yet another Pro Bowl campaign from the ball-hawking safety, it seems they've finally come around.

With free agency approaching, general manager Doug Whaley told BuffaloBills.com that the organization plans to send an offer to Byrd soon.

The team refused to ink Byrd to a multi-year deal a year ago, resulting in an acrimonious holdout that eventually ended in him signing a franchise tender. Whaley insisted that there is no lingering resentment between the two sides over those failed negotiations.

"He's a professional and we both tried to make sure that both sides know it's nothing personal," Whaley said. "It's just business."

Byrd wants and deserves to be paid like one of the top safeties in the league. Since arriving as a second-round pick in 2009, he's become one of the NFL's premier defensive playmakers, piling up 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles over five seasons.

Byrd -- who's currently in Hawaii preparing for his third Pro Bowl -- expressed open frustration after being tagged last year, and it remains to be seen whether he'll agree to return to Buffalo. Whaley cited the safety's strong relationship with his teammates and secondary coach Donnie Henderson as reasons he would stick around.

Buffalo also faces decisions on several other notable free-agents-to-be, including kicker Dan Carpenter, defensive lineman Alex Carrington, tight end Scott Chandler and safety Jim Leonhard. Whaley said team executives have ranked the players in order of priority and would attempt to re-sign those they deemed most important. More than likely, Byrd is at the top of that list.

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