The deadline for teams to apply their franchise and transition tags has come and gone, and the Bills announced earlier today they would not tag three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd.
Now it’s time for beat writers from safety-needy teams to look at whether the former Oregon product who played the 2013 season on a franchise tender would be worth his hefty price tag.
When D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ranked his five free agent targets for the Falcons, he ranked Byrd No. 1. Atlanta will be $26.7MM beneath the salary cap once Tony Gonzalez‘s $7MM slot is removed, and Ledbetter cites the potential upgrade Byrd would present over incumbent free safety Thomas DeCoud, whom the Falcons are expected to release, as justification.
But, there’s only so much money you can invest in one position, as ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure points out. Strong safety William Moore enters year two of a five-year, $29.51M contract, and Byrd figures to command a substantially larger deal.
Other Byrd notes from around the league…
- When the Browns placed the transition tag on center Alex Mack earlier today, they gave up their exclusive rights of T.J. Ward, another top-tier safety hitting free agency. ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon looks at the potential for a Byrd/Ward swap of sorts, reuniting Byrd with Cleveland head coach and former Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
- The Jets haven’t paid top dollar for a safety since Kerry Rhodes‘ $33.5MM deal in 2008, ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini notes, but Byrd is worth investigating. Cimini’s gut tells him the team will likely look again to Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen in 2014, but with 22 interceptions since 2009 and six against the Jets, Byrd should draw the organization’s eye.
- Aaron Williams, a second-round pick in 2011, tops the list of likely replacements for Byrd in Buffalo, with younger players Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Jujuan Harley as long shots, per ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak.