Bills safety Jairus Byrd was unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal with the team before Monday’s deadline, a failure that came despite Bills General Manager Doug Whaley saying they “worked very hard” on a new contract.
There have been reports that Byrd is seeking a contract that would make him one of the best-paid safeties in the league alongside the likes of Troy Polamalu, Eric Weddle and Dashon Goldson. Since Byrd hasn’t signed his tender yet, he can stay away from training camp as a way to express his dissatisfaction with Buffalo’s efforts to get him signed. It’s a course of action that Warren Sapp advised Byrd to avoid on the NFL Network.
“Sign your tender, go back to work and earn it like your rookie year when you came into the league and you went to the Pro Bowl,” Sapp said, via Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. “That’s what you do. Whenever somebody questions your play on the football field, you go out on the football field and you show it. I question him because you’ve been there the whole time with Buffalo, and if Buffalo doesn’t see you as an asset as far as their franchise player and the guy they want to put as their safety, [that says something]. If the team that watches you practice and play every day doesn’t deem you the best safety in the game, then you might want to look at yourself.”
While Byrd has little recourse to get the deal he wants outside of showing up and playing at a high level this season, Sapp’s take on the team’s opinion being the last word on the value of a player is a bit puzzling. Teams have made mistakes in player evaluations before and the open market has given many players contracts far beyond what their original team believed they were worth, something Sapp likely remembers since he signed one with Oakland during his own playing days and something wide receiver Mike Wallace learned this offseason.
Byrd will have to wait until at least the end of the 2013 season for his own chance to hit the open market, which is really the only moment where anyone will be able to say for certain if he’s got unrealistic ideas about his contract.