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Bills weren't expecting Jairus Byrd to sign today; 2014 franchise-tag clause not in deal

By Tim Graham

ByrdMugPITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley was telling the truth today when he said there was nothing to report about Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd's contract situation.

A source close to the situation told me there had been no substantive contract talks recently, and Byrd surprised the club today by agreeing to sign his franchise tender for $6.916 million guaranteed.

The Bills said they will comment on Byrd's contract Wednesday, the final day of training camp at St. John Fisher College. Byrd did not respond immediately to an interview request tonight. It's uncertain when he will report to the team.

An overlooked and likely reason for Byrd to sign today is the decision guarantees he will be paid for every game in the regular season.

After final cuts on Aug. 31, teams are allowed to request a two-week roster exemption for players returning from a contract standoff. Players can't play and do not get paid if they don't count against the roster.

Therefore, had Byrd reported right before the regular season began and the NFL had granted the Bills' roster exemption, then Byrd would've missed paychecks of $406,823.53.

The collective bargaining agreement is not clear about what would happen had Byrd reported right before final cuts. An exemption ruling in the Bills' favor could've been costly. 

The source also told me Byrd's contract is the straight-up franchise tender and does not include a provision that would prevent the Bills from placing the franchise tag on him again in 2014. If the Bills were to do that, however, the commitment would be for $8.29 million guaranteed.

The CBA stipulates a second franchise tag be at a price 120 percent of the previous year's number.


Doug Whaley | Jairus Byrd
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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 |