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Bills ready to welcome Jairus Byrd with "open arms"

Posted Jul 26, 2013

The Bills are ready to welcome S Jairus Byrd back into the fold.


The official report day for the players for Bills training camp is Saturday, but all indications are that Jairus Byrd will not be reporting to St. John Fisher on time. The Pro Bowl safety has yet to sign his franchise tender. With the one-year tender the only contract he can sign with the Bills at this point, the club is patiently waiting knowing the ball is in Byrd’s court.

Bills GM Doug Whaley, appearing on the John Murphy Show Friday evening indicated that not much has changed since he issued a team statement after the July 15th deadline to reach a long term pact with Byrd came and went.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Jairus as a person and as a player,” Whaley said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a long term deal done with him before the July 15th deadline. So unfortunately right now all we can do now is play under the one-year franchise tag.  Whenever he decides to come in, hopefully it’s soon, we’ll welcome him with open arms. But right now our focus is on the guys that are here now and we’re just going to get ready to go.”

When asked if he thought Byrd would report to be ready in time for the Bills opener against the New England Patriots on Sept. 8, Whaley answered honestly.

“We’re hoping. We don’t know,” he said. “That’s in Jairus’ court. We’re going to focus right now on the people that are here and getting this team ready and whenever he comes in we’ll accept him.”

Whaley made it clear that the Bills have settled on what they believe Byrd to be worth as a player in their defense and it’s in contrast to that of the Byrd camp. He also maintained that Buffalo will continue to pursue a long term contract agreement with the safety at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season when by league rule a multi-year pact can be struck.

“We like to put a value on a player and every team puts a value on a player and he has a value that he thinks he is,” said Whaley. “We’re trying to come to happy medium and get this deal done. We haven’t been able to do that yet, but we still have some time because we have this year with him and then after this year we’re going to again come to the table and try to come to a long term deal.”

For Whaley the stalemate is seen as nothing more than part of the business side of football.

“Unfortunately sometimes things don’t work out the way you want to, but it’s his right to hold out and it’s out right to use the franchise tag,” he said. “Sooner or later this thing will come to a head and it will get resolved.”

Teammates hoping to see Byrd
A number of Bills players have been in contact with Byrd through the course of the offseason. Mario Williams has spoken to the safety on more than one occasion and assured that he wants to play for Buffalo.

“He definitely wants to be here with us. That’s a given,” said Williams. “He’s a great player and we definitely want to have him back as soon as possible. Hopefully everything works out. That’s on the business end of the team and something we can’t control as players. We still keep in touch, keep in communication. Hopefully he comes back sooner than later and gets after it.”

Missing a significant amount of time in training camp and missing all of the spring practices is understandably cause for concern, but Byrd’s teammates believe he would catch on quickly.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and some of his teammates in the secondary have described the defense to Byrd in the times they’ve spoken with him.

“Yeah, we try to give him a little bit of stuff so he doesn’t come back not knowing anything,” said Gilmore. “We just try to give him a little here and there. I think he’ll be ready to go when he comes back.”

Whaley echoed those sentiments feeling it wouldn’t take long for Byrd to get up to speed and be a contributor in Buffalo’s defense. 

“I think with his ability he will be behind the eight ball a little bit because it is a new system, but I think a player of his quality, he’s a consummate pro,” said Whaley. “We believe he’ll come in in shape and he’ll take some time to learn the system, but with his ability he’ll be fine.”