Jairus Byrd appears to be on a collision course with the open market.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that, after gauging the market and looking at possible trade options, the Buffalo Bills now are unlikely to use their franchise tag on the standout safety, according to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR-AM in Buffalo first reported this development.
According to Rapoport, Byrd rejected an offer from the Bills that would've made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL for a portion of the deal. Negotiations have been amicable between the sides, but an agreement has been elusive. The Bills will continue attempts to get a contract done if nothing is in place by Monday's deadline to tag players.
The Bills initially believed there would be a trade market if they tagged Byrd and shopped his services, but the team has changed its stance in the past week. It's now believed to be unlikely a team would be willing to trade for Byrd, then sign him to a substantial long-term deal.
Byrd, 27, becomes one of the hottest names on the free-agent market if he's not under contract by March 11. The three-time Pro Bowl pick ranked No. 3 on Around The League's list of the top 101 free agents.
The Bills would be pained to lose one of their best players for a compensation pick, but it might end up being their most sensible option.
"We have negotiated with representation for Jairus Byrd for more than a year, but have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension," Whaley said. "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."