It was a decision that did not lack heavy consideration, but on Monday afternoon GM Doug Whaley and the Bills front office elected not to use the franchise tag in 2014.
The tag had been an option for the Bills to secure S Jairus Byrd or any of five other unrestricted free agents for the 2014 season, but absent long-term deals, the Bills chose not to make use of the tag.
Whaley and the front office made every effort to secure a long term deal with the Byrd camp on the second go round after last summer's negotiations resulted in the safety playing under the one-year franchise tag. In the end, it was clear that the two sides differed on how much the contract should be worth.
"We have negotiated with representation for Jairus Byrd for more than a year, but have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension," said Whaley. "We remain open to getting a deal done with Jairus, but we have chosen not to use the franchise tag on any of our impending unrestricted free agents."
Byrd is now fully expected to hit the open market. Free agency opens in just eight days when Byrd's services will be available to the other 31 teams in the league. As early as Saturday, other teams are allowed to open talks with the agents of prospective free agent players to see if a deal can be brokered.
Among the other clubs with the cap space to sign Byrd, and a need at safety, are Cincinnati, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Miami, Oakland and Philadelphia - four of which will be on the Bills 2014 schedule.
Byrd is a three-time Pro Bowl safety, who leads all active NFL safeties with 22 interceptions since 2009.
Buffalo's other impending unrestricted free agents include K Dan Carpenter, DL Alex Carrington, TE Scott Chandler, S Jim Leonhard and LB Arthur Moats.