You don't have to be a sports geek to know Jairus Byrd is on the minds of most Bills fans these days. He's been one of the best players for the last four seasons and has always been that guy most Bills fans can hold in high regard. You don't have to watch Sports betting videos to know that the odds of keeping him long term are too close to read into.
Quite frankly, I don't exactly have a streamline opinion about him as I'm all over the place about this saga. So many experts and fans keep telling me he's awesome, yet, I don't exactly see it when I watch the games. Yet, I know he's a good player.
Riddle meets enigma, I guess.
So, when I'm not sure about something in regards to sports takes, I just go off on a bunch of incoherent blurbs about the subject and see where it takes me. So, here are some hot takes about Jairus Byrd..
1) The Bills don't exactly have a history of giving a lot of money out to anyone in the secondary. Terrence McGee at a shade under 6-million dollars yearly was the most paid DB in history. Next, you'd have to go to Donte Whitner who made 5-million a year off his rookie contract. How many DBs have the Bills let go over the last 20 years or so? Too many. I just don't think they value them all that much in terms of paying them.
2) I'm not exactly sure how much Pettine values safeties for his defense. I mean, Jim Leonard, who was on a castaway on Buffalo's defenses, was his starting safety when the Jets went to the AFC Championship two years in a row. In other words, is that position really that valued? I did a Q&A about Pettine with a Jets' blogger a while back and he pretty much said the safety in Pettine's defense is known to play in the box and be a physical presence rather than a center fielder. Byrd is much better as a center fielder than that guy in the box.
3) I have to say, I'm getting a little sick and tired of people talking about Byrd as being the greatest safety in Bills history. I get it. Buffalo's sports teams are a fricken tire fire and we need to accentuate any positive to the 9th degree. Byrd is one of those degrees. When I get folks referencing how amazing he was against the crappy ass Arizona Cardinals, that's when you know we are accentuating the circumstance. He's a good player and maybe even elite for his position, but that's the problem. I don't exactly think there's much value in it. Just look at their salaries. Look at where they are drafted (Of the top 20 safeties on Advanced stats, only two of them were drafted as safeties in the 1st round).
When you have a position where LBs are converted to safeties or old washed up CBs end up finishing their careers there, it tells me it isn't all that valuable or hard to replace. Also, the last fulltime safety to be inducted into the hall of fame was in 2000 (Ronnie Lott). What does that tell you? It just isn't that important, especially with the spread.
4) I know the narrative has become that you can't associate the Bills poor play on defense to Byrd's play. Fine. However, a safety is the primary player who ends up covering a TE and we all know the Bills have been awful in that regard. I'm not trying to pretend I break down film like others, but I haven't seen any improvement in that regard and I think you have to place some of the blame on the safety.
5) In 2008, Jason Peters held out when he was vastly underpaid for being a starting LT in the NFL. He was a player who I felt was much more important to the team than say Byrd, yet, he got killed by most fans for staying away from camp. In fact, it was mostly a "don't let the door hit you on the way out" reaction when he was traded to Philly. Byrd has received zero of that. I think most fans want him back and for the Bills to pay top money for him. Maybe it will change in a month if he keeps holding out as most homers will start trying to take the team's side because that's what homers do when their team takes a stand, but in the meantime, I have zero idea why both situations are different.
6) To me, this whole dilemma about wanting to sign Byrd is more about the moral compassing of the franchise than the actual player. The Bills have pissed me off to no end and I want them to pay for good players out of spite. They are lucky as hell fans have supported them over the last 13 years and they are getting tax money from NY state for such an inferior product. Oh, and they just so happen to play a home game in Canada. In other words, they fucken owe us. For all the shit they have put us through, all we ask is just for them to show us that they are serious about winning. Just show a little effort and make us feel you aren't the KC Royals of the NFL. When Russ Brandon comes out and says all his empty cliches about the logo being tarnished and how money isn't an object, not re-signing Byrd kind of kills that, doesn't it?
7) Byrd will be in the starting lineup come opening day. He has zero negotiating power at this point because of the franchise tag. He has no choice. Obviously this could hinder his ability to have a fast start because he's not going to be adapted to Pettine's defense if he holds out until then. This could hurt him in negotiating next year, especially if he struggles.
Final word: Do I want the Bills to re-sign Byrd long term? Of course. He's a good player and I'm sick of the Bills playing the Howard Ballard or Nate Odomes moneyball game with their homegrown players they have drafted. Give him his going rate. However, don't try telling me that Byrd makes or breaks this defense. It is not that way at all because I just don't value that position. Ed Reed in his prime is a game breaker. Kerry Rhodes, who is ranked 2nd by advanced stats as a safety, is not.
If the Bills decided to take that 8-million bucks and invest it in say an elite TE, I'd take that in heartbeat over re-signing Byrd. Now, if that money goes to another Leodis McKelvin or Chris Kelsay extension, then I'm going to throw punches.
Anyways, I have a feeling this is going to last for a couple of years in terms of Byrd signing 1-year franchise deals, which will be annoying as it will be a talking point for every offseason, but as long as he's playing by opening day every year, it is what it is.
I'll say this, if the Bills pull what they did with Nate Clements by franchising him and then losing him for nothing the following year, there will be hell to pay.