Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/20/14
The Bills may or may not have blown their opportunity to sign Jairus Byrd to a long term deal when the contract deadline passed on July 15th. All they can do is hope the safety comes to training camp and agrees to a one year deal at this point, and then we might be in this situation all over again next year. There has already been a bit of (unfair) commentary calling for the Bills to trade Byrd if he’s going to hold out. So what would the Bills be able to get in return for the All-Pro safety in a trade? A total of 47 defensive backs have been traded since 2008 (according to Spotrac.com). But the majority of those players aren’t as good or game changing as Jairus Byrd. Over the past five and a half years, there have been seven starting and relevant defensive backs that have been traded. Let’s see if their return is worth a Jairus Byrd. 2008: DeAngelo Hall to Oakland for a 2nd and 5th round draft pick to Atlanta. Hmmm, that’d be turning a “profit” on Byrd, since he was a second round pick in 2009. But not all second round picks pan out. Plus, Byrd has to be more valuable than Hall was, right? 2009: Abram Elam (and other players) to New York Jets for 1st round draft pick to Cleveland. That first round pick turned into Mark Sanchez. We know how that one looks now, but the Jets new regime at the time was looking for their franchise quarterback and did what they had to do to get him. Thanks to this year’s draft, however, the Bills aren’t in a desperate situation looking for a quarterback. Hopefully. Err, I mean not anymore. 2010: Antonio Cromartie to New York Jets for 2nd round draft pick to San Diego. The trade was initially for a third round selection that moved up to the second round pick due to Cromartie’s playing time. The Jets did pretty well in this trade getting Cromartie, but San Diego didn’t turn that pick into much: Jonas Mouton, a linebacker who has appeared in just three games. Yeesh, that’d suck. 2010: Kerry Rhodes to Arizona for a 4th and 7th round draft pick to New York Jets. Damn, the Jets do a lot of DB dealings (get it?!?). Rhodes was replaced partway through the 2009 season and was an expensive backup for the Jets, not arguably the best defensive player on the team. The picks from this deal ended up becoming Joe McKnight and Greg McElroy, so they got young depth for expensive depth essentially. The Bills should want, and deserve, more for Byrd. 2011: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick to Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb to Arizona. The Cardinals wanted Kevin Kolb to become their franchise quarterback and paid dearly for him. The Eagles got a player who they hoped would complete a dominating cornerback tandem with Nnamdi Asomugha. The Bills already have Kolb, but they could use some help at cornerback or linebacker. Maybe offensive line too. Packaging Byrd with a draft pick for another defensive player seems unlikely. 2012: Vontae Davis to Indianapolis for 2nd round and conditional 6th round pick to Miami. Miami sent Davis, a member of the self-proclaimed “best [cornerback] tandem in the league.”  In reality, Davis was about an average starting cornerback last season for the Colts and has the ability to be slightly above average. (Although Davis did handle Stevie Johnson pretty well in Indianapolis last season, one catch allowed and two passes defensed in five targets.) It’s starting to seem that a starting defensive back is worth a second round pick… 2013: Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay for 13th overall draft pick and another conditional pick to New York Jets. That’s quite a haul for a player who tore his ACL last season. Byrd is healthy and possibly as good at his position as Revis is (was?) at cornerback. It’d be a tough pill to swallow, sending Byrd away for a first round draft pick, but it would probably get the job done. Before the Bills can send Byrd away to another team, they need that other team. Let’s look at a few OUT OF DIVISION teams that may need safety help. In order to find those teams, I summed each team’s safety +EPA from Advanced NFL Stats and chose the teams with the lowest totals from the 2012 regular season. (As you look at these +EPA totals, keep in mind that Jairus Byrd had 46.1 +EPA last season, better than seven TEAMS combined). Dallas Cowboys: 32.2 +EPA from safeties. The Cowboys struggled last season with Gerald Sensabaugh doing very little. They already made a move, however, signing Will Allen from Pittsburgh over the offseason. Maybe they could be interested in a higher caliber player. St. Louis Rams: 36.4 +EPA from safeties. The Rams are counting on a rookie, TJ McDonald, second year man Rodney McLeod, or former practice squad player Quinton Pointer to fill in one of their safety positions. Byrd would be a solid addition to their secondary that gets a lot of help from their defensive line. Indianapolis Colts: 37.8 +EPA from safeties. The Colts had a safety hole this offseason. Then they signed LaRon Landry to play alongside Antoine Bethea. They’re all set, thanks. Philadelphia Eagles: 37.9 +EPA from safeties. Philly added both Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung via free agency. Byrd would be an upgrade, but it seems like the Eagles are willing to take a chance on recently injured Phillips, who is playing on a one-year contract, and let Chung compete for the other spot. Maybe next offseason. Oakland Raiders: 40.3 +EPA from safeties. Charles Woodson is back in black and silver. Carolina Panthers: 44.9 +EPA from safeties. Byrd would be a great fit in Carolina, where he would be reunited with former teammate Drayton Florence. He could probably help cut down on Carolina’s big passing play defense. They allowed 58 passes to go for more than twenty yards, sixth worst in the league last year. Detroit Lions: 46.3 +EPA from safeties: Detroit gave up the most passing plays for more than twenty yards, 67 in total, but they hope the addition of Glover Quin alongside Louis Delmas will stabilize their secondary. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quick, name one player on the Jacksonville defense not name Paul Posluszny! The Jaguars drafted Jonathan Cyprien to be a starting safety and third round pick Dwayne Gratz, a big cornerback from Connecticut, seems slated for a starting cornerback position. Byrd would be a great anchor and leader for that young secondary. In all likelihood, Buffalo’s potential trade partners are pretty well limited to St. Louis, Carolina, and Jacksonville. Better than no potential partners, I guess. Upper round draft picks seem to be the market value for starting defensive backs. It doesn’t seem like enough, but what would be for a guy like Jairus Byrd? He’s one of the best at his position, is a great teammate and citizen, and has four years of NFL experience. No draft prospect meets all of that. Plus, all of the reasons why teams might be good trading partners for Byrd are reasons why the Bills need him to stay. That’s why I believe trading Byrd just to get something before he walks for nothing is pointless. If you have him under your team’s control, you should want him to play for you, not someone else. Hopefully he comes to training camp so he’s ready for Week 1. If not, he’ll end up playing for the Bills once the season eventually starts. Then again, reports are coming out now that the situation is pretty bad. Brace yourselves.
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