The Bills placed the franchise tag on FS Jairus Byrd, the team announced Friday. The tag for a safety is worth $6.916 million for 2013.
Byrd, 26, started every game last season and had 76 tackles, six passes defensed, five interceptions and four forced fumbles. In his four seasons in Buffalo, Byrd has 27 passes defensed, 18 picks and 10 forced fumbles.
Byrd has played in every game the past three seasons, and started every one from 2011-12. Earlier this offseason, Buffalo released Byrd’s starting mate in the back end, SS George Wilson.
The Bills’ other free agent who could have received the franchise tag is OLG Andy Levitre, who looks primed to hit free agency. This is the first time the Bills have used the franchise tag since 2006 (CB Nate Clements).
The way we see it
This was a smart move by the Bills for a few reasons. Financially, the price to tag a safety is the second-lowest among the starting positions. Byrd is a young ballhawk who excelled as a rookie and last season. The Bills have an inexperienced secondary with plenty of questions, and they answered one by keeping Byrd in the fold, as they work to get a long-term deal done. Safety continues to be an important position around the league, and the Bills should be happy to keep one of the league’s top up-and-comers at the position in Buffalo.
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