A player who would be an obvious fit for the Chiefs is set to hit the market, though he may prove to be too pricy for their taste.
NFL teams had until 3 p.m. Monday to make use of the franchise or transition tag, but Buffalo general manager Doug Whaley announced beforehand the club would not use the franchise tag on any player, including star safety Jairus Byrd.
“We’ve chosen not to use the franchise tag on any of our impending unrestricted free agents,” Whaley said in a statement.
According to BuffaloBills.com, Whaley said the club negotiated with Whaley’s representatives for more than a year and failed to reach an agreement, but remain open to getting a deal done.
This means Byrd, a six-year veteran who was franchised last season, is free to sign with anyone when free-agency begins March 11. He made $6.9 million last season while playing under the franchise tag, and would have made $8.3 million had the Bills chosen to tag him again.
However, the 27-year-old Byrd ― who is widely regarded as one of the best free safeties in football ― is now set to command something similar or better than the five-year, $41.25 million Dashon Goldson received from the Buccaneers last offseason.
Given the potential price tag, it seems unlikely the cash-strapped Chiefs ― who are currently slated to have about $9.62 million in free-agency, barring any extensions or restructures ― will be one of those teams, despite the fact they are expected to seek an upgrade over last year's starter at free safety, Kendrick Lewis.
For one, the Chiefs already have one high-paid safety in Eric Berry, who has a cap number of $11.6 million in 2014. The club is also high on 2013 fifth-round pick Sanders Commings, a player who projects as a centerfield-type safety in Byrd’s mold, and has interviewed several safeties with range over the past few months, including a pair of likely first-rounders in Calvin Pryor of Louisville and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama.
Nevertheless, Byrd posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 9.9, which ranked eighth among all safeties last season. He also racked up 48 tackles, six pass breakups and four interceptions and made the Pro Bowl despite missing five games because of injuries.
Byrd was Pro Football Focus’ second-best safety in 2012, when he racked up 60 tackles and five interceptions and posted a grade of 23.8. Only Eric Weddle of San Diego, who posted a grade of 27.7 that season, was better.