Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- After a tumultuous start to their relationship in 2013, the message from the Buffalo Bills to safety Jairus Byrd is simple: they view him as an important piece and don't want to lose him.
Byrd, who was given the franchise tag by the organization in March, neglected to sign the tag until two weeks before the start of the regular season. He missed all off-season workouts, minicamps, training camp and the entirety of the preseason.
Even after he signed his tag for a cool $6.916 million, the Bills were still without Byrd for the first five games of the regular season because of a bout with plantar fasciitis in both feet. Many pondered if it was an extended ploy by Byrd and his notably stubborn agent, Eugene Parker, to get the player paid and keep him out of harm's way.
That rhetoric proved to be false with Byrd playing in the remaining 11 contests of the season for the Bills. Being brought in slowly, Byrd made the final nine starts and accrued 48 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and a sack in his 2013 season. The impact was good enough for the rest of the league, too.
For the third time in five years, Byrd was selected to go to the Pro Bowl as one of the league's elite players. For that reason among many others, the Bills don't want the safety to escape Orchard Park.
"We've had a conversation -- myself and Russ -- sat and talked to Jairus, and we're gonna make an offer to the guy and we're gonna try to keep him," said Bills General Manager Doug Whaley during the team's season-ending press conference. "We're gonna try to the best of abilities because we're in the business of collecting good players and he's a good player."
For the second straight year Byrd is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but also remains eligible to be franchise tagged by Buffalo once more. If the team were to do that, Byrd would be owed north of $8 million to retain his rights.
As Whaley points out, they're keeping all the potential outcomes available to them.
"That's always an option. We're not gonna back ourselves into a corner and eliminate any possibility of trying to retain a good player," he said. "We're gonna leave all options on the table."
Byrd has 22 interceptions in his five-year career with the Bills. He's 27 years old.