Many people around Buffalo acted with a sense of relief when they heard the news that Jairus Byrd had been designated the Bills franchise player, allowing them to retain his rights for a year at the price of 6.9 million dollars, a steal relative to the recent Eric Weddle deal.
These observers moved on to say that bringing back Andy Levitre should now be the focus, especially considering the money supposedly saved by franchising Byrd. This is wrong, because Byrd is still the priority. Consider:
-Byrd likely doesn’t want to play under the franchise tag. No player does, but especially in Byrd’s case where the tag is well under what he would command in the free agent market.
-Rather, tagging Byrd allows the Bills more time to work out a long term deal, which will need to happen before Byrd plays this year.
-Levitre, on the other hand, is expected to be looking for 9-10 million per year. Not having the Byrd deal in place, I’d be very surprised if they spent that much money on a guard. Also, Eric Wood’s contract year is next year, so the Bills have already allotted space for him.
-Position scarcity also makes a big investment in Levitre doubtful. The Bills were able to fill the other guard spot with Kraig Urbik, a waiver claim, so they probably don’t think they need to spend that much at the position. Also, keep that in mind if you think the Bills would draft Chance Warmack.
Byrd on the other hand, is one of the best safeties in the league at a time where there are less than 20 safeties capable of covering the field sufficiently. Getting Byrd level play is much harder to come by.
So, it seems that Jairus Byrd is still the major objective of the Bills staff, along with any free agent splashes they may end up making. And that’s why the Bills haven’t offered Levitre anything yet, and why he will likely be playing elsewhere next year.
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