By Tim Graham
Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon said he's "not concerned" star safety Jairus Byrd remains unsigned.
But by all appearances the club is getting ready for life without him just in case.
The Bills today drafted safeties Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks in the fourth and fifth rounds.
"Obviously, we will be prepared for whatever happens," Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said.
The Bills used their franchise tag on Byrd to retain his rights, but he doesn't have to sign the one-year proposal. The franchise tag for safeties is a guaranteed salary of $6.916 million.
While Byrd and the Bills both want a long-term contract, agreeing on money is the problem. Free-agent safety Dashon Goldson signed a four-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth a reported $41.25 million.
Byrd was the only player not to report for Buffalo's recent voluntary workouts. His agent is Eugene Parker, who also represents former Buffalo left tackle Jason Peters. Parker's hardball tactics forced Buffalo to trade Peters in 2009.
Brandon said re-signing Byrd is "a priority for the organization, and we hope to continue to work through the process with he and, more importantly, his agent."
Brandon called the negotiations a fluid process.
"Obviously, [the franchise tag] is an asset that we have in our holster, and he has the opportunity to wait until he's comfortable," Brandon said. "We'll continue that dialogue.
"You always want to have all your guys here, but we understand the situation, and we'll keep working through it."
Franchise players who remain unsigned after Week 10 become ineligible to play for the rest of the season. New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins was franchised in 2010 and didn't return until Week Nine.
taggedDuke Williams | Jairus Byrd | Jason Peters | Jonathan Meeks | Russ Brandon