Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Between the Buffalo Bills front office and free safety Jairus Byrd, the relationship certainly took a negative turn for the past five-and-a-half months.
The team, well within their rights, elected to use the franchise tag designation on Byrd and the two sides remained firmly apart for all of the spring and most of summer. Speaking publicly for the first time since being tagged, Byrd wasn't exactly thrilled when he first found out he was tagged.
"I was a little, you know, I didn't really have a ... I was a little disappointed honestly," he remarked. "But I was hoping that, you know, 'Ok, there will be a resolution to this.' That was my initial, just being honest, that was my initial feeling. But I did think that just initially it was going to take a while, but there would be a resolution to it."
The only resolution that came was a hardened stance from both the Bills and Byrd, leading to a quiet July 15 deadline for a long-term contract to be reached. The safety then elected to wait until just before training camp was done to sign his tender, and reported to the team within the next few days.
By doing so, Byrd avoided the possibility of missing game checks due to a roster exemption the team could have explored had he held out until after the preseason was over. Byrd signed the tag with enough time that two-week exemption would only affect the final two preseason games.
Citing the "business" several times in what seemed to be a downtrodden ten-minute interview with the media, Byrd was also asked if he was hurt by the Bills' actions this off-season.
"I mean I feel how anyone else would feel if you're in my position," Byrd said after a four-second pause to think. "If that's hurt, sure. If that's ... but it's also business. So I mean, you can't really as a human, it's easy to say, 'Don't take things personal.' But it's hard, you know what I'm saying."
Although he can't be signed to a long-term contract by any other team during the 2013 season in addition to the Bills, the idea of a possible trade hasn't gone away just yet.
Byrd was asked if he had requested a trade, and neither confirmed nor denied that he had.
"uhh, yeah, because there's a thing called the franchise tag again.I'm going to leave the private matters of the business side between us," he responded. "But I don't really want to comment on other things. I'll let coach marrone talk more about the team aspect and what they're doing upstairs. If you want to talk to Doug [Whaley] or whoever, I'm not in that position to talk about that stuff."
As Byrd gets prepared for the season, he implied that it's going to take a bit of time to get acclimated to both the speed of the game and the new defensive playbook, and didn't provide a firm response as to whether he would be ready when the regular season starts on Sunday, September 8.
In perhaps one of the more alarming responses from the once estranged safety, he was asked if he could forsee himself being a member of the Bills in 2014. His retort was quick, and somewhat loaded.
"Uhh, yeah, because there's a thing called the franchise tag again."
Byrd did admit he's happy to be playing football with his teammates and was focusing on the season at hand, but also got a crash-course lesson into how cold the NFL could be even to some of the game's elite.
"It is what it is. It's the business side of football," he said. "And sometimes those things, they get mixed together, meshed together. And that's part of me developing and growing up and learning that."
Byrd and the Bills will be back on the practice field again Tuesday morning. The safety was in his helmet and shoulder pads taking part in the session on Monday.