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Bill Polian lists Andy Levitre, Jairus Byrd atop NFL's free agents

By Tim Graham

Fans have a tendency to overrate their favorite team's best players.

But when it comes to Buffalo Bills free agents Andy Levitre and Jairus Byrd, the appeal should be league-wide.

Bill Polian, the Bills' Wall of Fame executive, suggests Levitre and Byrd will be hot commodities if they hit the upcoming free-agent marketplace.

Polian recently rated the NFL's 2013 free-agent class for ESPN Insider. He broke down offensive, defensive and special-teams players into A, B and C tiers based on how much money and how many years a team should commit.

Polian ranked Levitre the top lineman and eighth-best offensive player overall in this year's class.

Levitre was ahead of Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, New England Patriots right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and Miami Dolphins left tackle (and former No. 1 overall draft pick) Jake Long.

Polian rated Byrd the second-best safety and 12th-best overall player on the defensive side.

Byrd is toward the bottom of Polian's "Tier A" defensive candidates, but Byrd is two spots ahead of future Hall of Famer Ed Reed and three spots ahead of New York Jets safety LaRon Landry.

Polian explained "Tier B" players were ones "worth pursuing only if you can get them at good value."

The lone Bills free agent in this category was cornerback/return man Leodis McKelvin. He was listed at the bottom of the category with names such as Patriots running back Danny Woodhead, Jets running back Shonn Greene and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Polian described "Tier C" as "roster-filler territory," where players shouldn't be given long-term commitments or big bonuses. Running back Tashard Choice was the only Bills player Polian listed in this group.


Andy Levitre | Bill Polian | Jairus Byrd | Leodis McKelvin | Tashard Choice
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |