Buffalo Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon did an interview on Monday with. The interview was clearly about the Bills doing damage control on the situation with safety Jairus Byrd.
Byrd was given the franchise tag by the Bills earlier this year to prevent the Pro Bowl safety hitting the free agent market. The Bills had until July 15th to reach a long term deal with Byrd, but that day came and went with no progress. Now, training camp has started and Byrd is still nowhere to be seen.
What makes this a clear case of damage control is what Brandon said about the Byrd situation.
“We can’t wait for Jairus to get here. Obviously he’s a great player and someone we have a lot of respect for,” Brandon said. “Once he’s here and gets through this year we want to continue the discussions with (Byrd’s agent Eugene Parker) to try to get him locked in long term. He’s part of the corps of this team. He’s a great player.”
The truth of the matter is the complete opposite and the proof is in how they have handled contract disputes in the past.
Before you get all flustered please go back and read the second half of Brandon’s comments. Now that you finished, remember in the past Bills owner Ralph Wilson has stated that money is no object to him as he cannot take it to his grave. Also, the Bills have a tremendous amount of salary cap space. Yahoo Sports reported Buffalo had $15.46 million in salary cap space as of early February.
The Bills got additional $10 million in cap space when defensive line man Chris Kelsay retired and cut cornerback Terrance McGee. The only free agent the Bills signed was outside linebacker Manny Lawson, which was a four year $12 million contract.
So, what you have is the Bills doing a damage control, public relations campaign given that the Bills have the resources to sign Byrd to a lucrative contract.
If you still don’t believe me then here are four additional cases with the first case being left tackle Jason Peters in 2008. Peters switched from right tackle to left tackle for the Bills midseason and still made the Pro Bowl. So, Peters the following offseason wanted a contract that reflected his new position, but that never happened and was traded the following offseason to the Philadelphia Eagles who gave him a new six year $60 million contract.
The second case came in early March 5th, 2012 when the Bills signed wide receiver Stevie Johnson to a new five year $36.25 million contract just a week prior to the expiration of his old contract.
The third case came just over a week later, which is the signing of Mario Williams. When free agency opened a week later on March 12th, 2012 the highest sought after free agent was defensive end Mario Williams. After two days of negotiations the Bills signed Williams to a six year contract that was worth up to $100 million.
The last case came earlier this year with guard Andy Levitre. Levitre’s contract expired with the Bills and he became an unrestricted free agent. Even though he started all 64 games for the Bills and was a solid starter at left tackle, the Bills just let Levitre walk.
So, what do those four cases mean? What it means is that the Bills are more than willing to sign big name players at high profile positions like wide receiver, defensive end, and quarterback. However, when it comes to impact players at lower profile, less glamorous positions like offensive line and safety you can forget it.
So, don’t read to much into Brandon’s comments as today was simply the Bills doing damage control on the Byrd situation.