Doug Whaley: Bills remain in contact with S Jairus Byrd
"We're not going to do anything in the public or in the media," Whaley said on Saturday, via WGR-AM. "Just know that we have been in contact and lines of communication are open."
Take note, that’s still a decidedly vague comment by Whaley, and he didn’t say when the two sides last made “contact” or what the “contract” consisted of.
Meanwhile, Byrd continues his holdout to the Bills’ training camp which officially opened on Saturday. Byrd also missed all of the team’s offseason practices while the two sides negotiated a long-term contract. However, Whaley believed Byrd’s absence was nothing out of the ordinary in terms of contract negotiations.
"I just think it's a normal negotiation process," expressed Whaley. "We've worked hard. They've worked hard. It's part of the business that's the business of football.”
The 26-year-old Byrd could have been eligible to enter free agency in March but the Bills retained his rights by using the franchise tag on him. But after a season as the Bills’ most consistent defender, Byrd did want to sign wanted to his a one-year, $6.9 million tender and believed he deserved a long-term contract instead. However, with contract negotiations going nowhere by the July 15 deadline, the Bills were reduced to only offering Byrd a one-year deal, per NFL rules.
But the Bills seem understanding to the position Byrd has taken in refusing to the accept their offer and continuing to hold out as he’s not required to attend training camp while still unsigned by the team.
“We respect him as a player,” Whaley said. “Hopefully, he comes in. And when he does, we'll welcome him with open arms. However, at this time, he is exercising his right, and we respect that."
“I know the type of person he is,” Whaley continued, “(when Byrd returns) he'll be in shape, and he'll be ready to go."
While Byrd’s absence leaves a major hole in the Bills defensive plans, but new coach Doug Marrone has displayed a willingness to be patient about the player’s contract situation, while new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine also looks pay attention to the player’s that are there at training camp instead.
“We understand with the collective bargaining agreement that he has the ability to not be here right now, and we respect that,” Marrone said. “We'll concentrate on the players that are here now and look forward to Jairus reporting in the future.”
“I think there's a lot of guys on the roster now that are going to step up to fill that role until he gets back,” Pettine added. “And then we'll go from there when he gets in.”