Bills' safety Jairus Byrd finally signs franchise tender, will report to camp
The Bills and Byrd could not agree to a long-term extension before the league's July 15 deadline, so the Bills appropriately slapped their defensive playmaker with the franchise tag. The franchise tag for safeties is a one-year, $6.916 million deal, so Byrd certainly won't be starving in 2013, but he was hoping to receive long-term security in free agency this offseason.
Everyone has expected all along that Byrd would return to camp soon enough, as he had very little to gain by holding out any longer. The main reason for Byrd to stay away from camp would be to avoid injury, as something like a torn ACL could affect his interest on the open market next offseason. However, poor performance this season would also hurt Byrd's free agent value, so he'd be wise to prepare well for Week 1 so he can earn a big payday.
It is possible that Byrd convinced the Bills to agree not to franchise tag him for a second straight season in 2014, though that has yet to be confirmed or denied.
Byrd has yet to become a household name, but is one of the premier safeties in the NFL. He finished 2012 as Pro Football Focus' 2nd ranked safety, as he picked off five passes and forced four fumbles in a Pro Bowl campaign. He now has 18 interceptions through the first four years of his career, and he has become one of the league's best playmakers in the secondary.
The Bills really need Byrd if they want a shot at the playoffs, so it's nice that they'll have him back with 19 days left to get ready for the team's Week 1 matchup with the New England Patriots. 19 days is not a whole lot, but it could certainly be worse.
With other studs such as Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams, and Stephon Gilmore on the defensive side of the ball, as well as promising second-round pick Kiko Alonso, the Bills could have a very nice defense under new coordinator Mike Pettine.