The Bills used the franchise tag to sit on safety Jairus Byrd last year, and they’re considering doing it again.
Or at least they’re saying they are.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley told the team’s official website (the most useful vehicle for delivering an unvarnished message) that they were able and willing to use the tag on Byrd again.
“We have to leave every option on the table open,” Whaley said. “When you’re trying to keep a good player you’re going to try every means necessary to keep him. . . .
“The salary cap will not prohibit us from getting done what we need to get done. So we are very comfortable.”
The franchise tag for safeties this year is estimated to be $8.24 million, but they’d have to pay Byrd 120 percent of last year’s $6.9 million tag value, which would nudge it up to $8.3 million.
That’s far too much for one year’s worth of any safety, but having been unable to do a long-term deal, the Bills might be trying to position themselves for another move. There was talk at the Scouting Combine about Cleveland having interest in Byrd, which makes sense given the way he played in Mike Pettine’s defense a year ago.
So if the Bills are looking to finagle a deal with the Browns, announcing your willingness to tag Byrd and keep him is a good way to establish the baseline for talks.