Niagara Gazette

Sports

March 3, 2014

Talks with Byrd slow

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — Contract talks between the Bills and safety Jairus Byrd were at a standstill on Sunday, a day before Buffalo faces a deadline to apply the franchise tag on the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

People familiar with the situation told The Associated Press talks have stalled and no further discussions are scheduled after the Bills made a lucrative, multiyear offer to Byrd. Without revealing the full value and length of the offer, one person said Byrd would have been paid about $30 million over the contract’s first three seasons.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither side has publicly discussed negotiations.

Unless a deal is reached, the Bills have until 4 p.m. today to apply the franchise tag on Byrd and retain the player’s rights before he would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11.

The Bills took that approach last offseason, which led to Byrd playing under a one-year, $6.9 million franchise tag. The price for Buffalo to do so again would increase to about $8.4 million this year.

Byrd has been Buffalo’s best defensive back since being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Oregon.

He enjoyed a breakout season as a rookie, when he finished tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions — a rookie franchise record.

Last year, Byrd finished tied for the team lead with four interceptions, and added a sack and a forced fumble despite missing the entire offseason before reporting to the team in late August, when he accepted his one-year contract. Byrd then missed the first five games of the season because of plantar fasciitis in both feet.

Despite the time he missed, Byrd still earned his third Pro Bowl selection.

Byrd has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in 73 career games.

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