Niagara Gazette

Sports

August 22, 2013

Bills sign Byrd, are granted preseason exemption

Niagara Gazette — PITTSFORD — The NFL isn’t going to stand in safety Jairus Byrd’s way to open the regular season.

In granting the Buffalo Bills’ request to have the newly re-signed player not count on their roster, the league limited the exemption only through the team’s final two preseason games.

The ruling, announced Wednesday, becomes the next step in clearing the way for the two-time Pro Bowl safety to open the season on the active roster.

Byrd, however, must still pass a physical.

One of the reasons Byrd signed this week was to avoid missing regular-season games.

The exemption granted by the NFL begins Tuesday, when teams are required to cut their rosters to 75 players.

It does not extend past Aug. 31, when teams have to establish their 53-player rosters.

The Bills approached the NFL for an exemption a day after Byrd signed his one-year, $6.9 million franchise tender. General manager Doug Whaley told The Associated Press he had not ruled out having the exemption extend into the regular season.

“An extra roster spot is always a good thing,” Whaley said, when asked if Byrd could be exempted for the Bills opener against New England on Sept. 8.

That request was denied because the NFL generally limits exemptions to two games. Buffalo plays at Washington on Saturday, and closes the preseason hosting Detroit on Aug. 29.

Byrd would not have been paid if he wasn’t on the active roster for the first week of the season.

Whaley described the request as “standard procedure,” when involving a player such as Byrd, who has missed nearly the entire offseason because he was unsigned.

Though Byrd is now under contract, he is not expected to report to the team until later this week.

He’s missed all of the team’s offseason workouts, and all of training camp after the Bills held their final practice in suburban Rochester on Wednesday.

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