By Tim Graham
No surprise here, but Buffalo Bills fans must've hoped for one.
The Bills and Jairus Byrd have not made progress on a new contract, and he will not report to St. John Fisher College this weekend for the start of training camp, two sources with knowledge of the stalemate have told me.
Byrd, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, technically is not staging a holdout and cannot be fined for missing practices because he's not under contract. He's the last of eight NFL players to have not signed his franchise tag.
The Bills and Byrd missed the July 15 deadline for franchised players to sign multiyear contract extensions. He now may sign only a one-year deal.
While the Bills would prefer to have Byrd in camp and learning new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's playbook, that might not happen before the team breaks camp Aug. 21.
Byrd would, however, begin to miss out on weekly game checks if he's not signed in time to play in the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the New England Patriots.
The franchise tag for safeties this year is $6.916 million. That would put Byrd seventh among all NFL safeties in average annual salary, but he wanted the open market to dictate his worth.
The franchise tag prevented Byrd from exploring unrestricted free agency.
But the Bills likely wouldn't have been able to compete with other teams and retain his services. They probably would have lost their star defender altogether had they not franchised him.