BY SEAN DONOVAN
The Buffalo Bills and impending free agent Jarius Bryd have been working toward a long term deal ahead of Monday, the last day the team can opt to place the franchise tag on the star safety.
And by all accounts, negotiations had been amicable between the two sides.
According to a report from WGR 550, a split is now probable, with a deal unlikely to be struck before free agency. The report states that Buffalo is also not expected to use the franchise tag this time around, an option it utilized last year after contract talks broke down.
The Bills made a "substantial" long-term offer to keep Byrd in the fold, and also considered placing the one-year, $8.43 million franchise tender on him then exploring trade options
Now, none of that appears to be likely, leaving Byrd to test free agency and the Bills without their mainstay in the back end of their defense.
As one of the league's elite free safeties, Byrd should easily command a deal in excess of the $8 million average yearly salary given to Eric Weddle and the $8.25 million average salary given to Dashon Goldson. Given the league's swelling salary cap and the premium placed on safety play, it's possible to envision Byrd seeking $10 million-plus annually in his next deal.
It's unknown how far the Bills were willing to go to keep the three-time Pro Bowler, but they certainly considered all of their options.