By Tim Graham
The Buffalo Bills are not close to signing safety Jairus Byrd. No contract talks have been scheduled, and there's no understanding between the sides they'll speak any time soon.
That's what a source close to the situation informed me today, one week before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to negotiate multiyear contracts.
Byrd and Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Cady are the NFL's last two unsigned franchise players. Denver Post reporter Mike Klis wrote Sunday that negotiations between the Broncos and Clady's agent would resume this week.
No such talks are expected between the Bills and Byrd's agent, Eugene Parker.
Once the July 15 deadline passes, franchise players can sign for only one year, and they aren't allowed to renegotiate that contract until the season is over.
Some reports about the July 15 deadline have been misleading.
Missing the deadline would not force Byrd to sign for the franchise-tag figure of $6.916 million for safeties; he could sign for more or less than that figure.
Missing the deadline also would not compel Byrd to report for training camp or even regular-season games.
Byrd is a free agent without a contract. He's not obligated to report for any Bills activities.
In fact, he still could sign an offer sheet with another team. That's highly unlikely because the Bills would have the right of first refusal. If the Bills didn't match an offer sheet, then they would receive two first-round draft choices as compensation -- a steep price for another club to obtain a safety.
If Byrd wants to play this year and get credited with an accrued season toward his pension and other NFL benefits, then he must sign by 4 p.m. Nov. 12 (the Tuesday after Week 10, as spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement).
Otherwise, he will be ineligible until the 2014 season.