By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills weren't in full-blown, "We're only going to talk about the guys who are here" mode, but I get the sense they're girding for the possibility of a lengthy contract standoff with Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd.
The Bills used their franchise tag on Byrd to retain his rights for the upcoming season. He's not obliged to sign it.
The franchise tag for safeties provides a one-year, guaranteed salary of $6.916 million. While Byrd and the Bills both want a long-term contract, agreeing on the value is the issue. For example, free-agent safety Dashon Goldson signed a four-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth a reported $41.25 million with $22 million in guarantees.
Until Byrd has his long-term contract, he won't attend Bills voluntary workouts. They began today. He was the only player who didn't report.
"There's been some contact, and we're making some effort to try to get a long-term deal done with Jairus," Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said at the team's annual pre-draft luncheon. "But -- and I don't mean this in a bad way -- I haven't given it much thought.
"I don't mean that we're not interested because we certainly need him, and eventually he'll probably be here. But it's nothing we can do except try to get a contract done, and if it doesn't work, then the ball's in his court. He comes when, basically, he gets ready.
"What we're trying to do is get our guys ready that we got here, and we got them all here but one, so that's not bad."
Franchise players who remain unsigned after Week 10 of the regular season 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.
"A tag is an option we have, and then when they come in is an option they have," Nix said. "That's what it's come down to.
"Again, we'd love to have him here yesterday, but we don't. So we're going to work hard trying to get the guys ready we got."
taggedBuddy Nix | Jairus Byrd | Jason Peters