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Jason Peters revisited: Bills, agent say trade won't affect Jairus Byrd

By Tim Graham

There isn't a contract scoreboard in Russ Brandon's office.

Influential agent Eugene Parker might have forced the Buffalo Bills to trade left tackle Jason Peters four years ago, but that doesn't mean safety Jairus Byrd's situation will be considered a rematch.

In interviews for a Parker profile that will run in Sunday morning's Buffalo News, he and Brandon revisited the Peters contract standoff in light of Byrd's contract negotiations.

Each insisted the circumstances are totally different and there will be no carryover.

"You have a competitive streak to you and everything that you do," Brandon told me Friday at One Bills Drive, "but you have to be very careful with that in this end of the business.

"You could be disappointed that one situation ended up a certain way, but you might be dealing with that agent again five minutes from now on a free agent you're bringing in off the street."

Byrd recently finished a four-year rookie deal and was franchised by the team. He has a one-year offer for $6.916 million he can sign, but both he and the Bills want a long-term deal.

Peters, an undrafted tight end who had been converted to tackle, had two years remaining on a contract that already had been restructured multiple times with other agents representing him.

Brandon said the Bills were willing to renegotiate another contract for Peters, just not then.

"That subset of issues was far different than Jairus'," Brandon said.

Parker explained his role in working out a new deal for Peters, who had been to consecutive Pro Bowls and would run his streak to five straight with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"That was a unique situation," Parker said. "Typically, when I do a contract, I stand behind it. That's been my motto: Let's get it right the first time.

"But with Jason, I didn't do his first contract or his second contract, and then he went to the Pro Bowl as a left tackle. He was admittedly underpaid. I agreed to get involved, and I knew it would be a tough, unique situation. I understood the Bills' position, and I understood Jason's position."

Andrew Brandt, the former Green Bay Packers cap manager, worked for Eagles president Joe Banner as a negotiator at the time.

"I remember Joe saying, 'We need a deal here,' " said Brandt, an ESPN business analyst. "And understanding the parameters I was working with and negotiating with Eugene, I understood at some level Jason Peters was going to be the highest-paid player at his position.

"One of the most frustrating things to a front-office executive is a player agreeing to a long-term deal, and he's happy at the time and is committed to the future and then watches the market pass him by and becomes disgruntled with the contract he once was so happy about.

"One thing we agreed on was, 'If you're going to do something like that as a player and as an agent, the player better be special. The guy better be truly special.' We agreed Peters was special."

The Bills acquired three Eagles draft choices that became center Eric Wood, tight end Shawn Nelson and linebacker Danny Batten. Wood is the only one still with the team.

Peters immediately signed a six-year deal with the Eagles for as much as $60 million, with $24 million in guarantees.

"We got the length we wanted at six years, and they got the money they wanted," Brandt said. "One of the key points Eugene always tries to negotiate is length. He has a great understanding of the value of free-agent years.

"He protected lengths of contracts with great care. He wanted contracts as short a length as possible because he realized players have their most leverage when they're close to or at free agency."

Parker claimed Peters didn't want to be traded, that he preferred to remain with the Bills. But Peters also knew he deserved more money than the Bills were willing to pay him in 2009.

"They traded Jason Peters, not me," Parker said. "That was their choice."

tagged

Eric Wood | Eugene Parker | Jason Peters | 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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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