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Jairus Byrd's contract an immediate issue for Doug Whaley

By Tim Graham

Congratulations on the new job, Doug Whaley.

Now what are you going to do about Jairus Byrd?

Whaley had been settled into his seat on the podium at One Bills Drive for about seven minutes before he was asked about the team's biggest contract issue.

Byrd, the two-time Pro Bowl safety, has neither signed his franchise tag nor reported for voluntary workouts like the rest of his teammates.

"First of all, we recognize Jairus as a good player, and we're in the business of collecting good players," Whaley said at today's introductory news conference. "But we're going to continue the negotiation process. But we will also continue not negotiating in the press."

Whaley and club president Russ Brandon were ambiguous when discussing how Whaley's promotion will impact the decision-making on contracts. Vice president of football administration Jim Overdorf negotiates them for the most part, but Brandon and Whaley have some say.

"It's important that I, one, have a knowledge of the cap and how it works and, two, assist Jim Overdorf," Whaley said. "He's been great at what he's done for many, many years, and I'm going to assist him in any way possible for us to accumulate good players to get on the winning track."

Brandon seemed to contradict himself when explaining who will make personnel decisions. Brandon at first said Whaley will make the final call -- with help -- on who makes the 53-man roster and who gets drafted each time the Bills are on the clock.

"Doug will manage that process and have final say on the 53," Brandon said. "And when it comes to the draft -- as I like to use the term 'pull the tag' -- Doug will pull the tag when it comes to the draft.

"But it will be a collective effort when it comes to all of us in the process relative to the football operation and, obviously, Jim will oversee the cap management."

Brandon later said, "When it comes to final say, I guess I would have final say. But it would not be without Doug's blessing. He's the general manager and he will work hand-in-hand with all of us on that. But, again, we're going to be in lockstep relative to the finances and the cap management."

Video: Bucky Gleason & Mark Gaughan on Doug Whaley's elevation to GM | Photo gallery: A look at Whaley | Whaley makes changes on first day | Bill Cowher's comments about Whaley | Whaley gets the nod as GM | Bills GM history

Whaley's contract extended (Feb. 24, 2013) | Jay Skurski's profile of Whaley (Jan. 1, 2013) | Gaughan's profile of Whaley (Feb. 29, 2012) | Director of player personnel added to Whaley's title (May 7, 2011) | Whaley on hiring as assistant GM (March 2, 2010)

Video: Gaughan & Tim Graham on Buddy Nix's resignation, legacy | Story: Nix says time right to step down | Photo gallery: Nix through the years | Graham's list of the top 5 Nix 'hits' as GM | Top 5 Nix 'misses' | Nix's written statement


Doug Whaley | Jairus Byrd | Jim Overdorf | Russ Brandon
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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 |