Are the Buffalo Bills Byrd Watching?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 30: Jairus Byrd #31 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 30, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 30: Jairus Byrd #31 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 30, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

With free agency virtually complete, the remaining NFL free agents are actively watching training camp for injuries and disappointments.

The Buffalo Bills addressed the safety position, but many questions remain that an old Bill could fix.

This offseason the Bills made a complete overhaul of their Safety position. They said goodbye to Aaron Williams and Buffalo native Corey Graham. To replace them, they spent the most money of any team at the safety position ($43.5 million) to bring in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

Micah Hyde brings starting experience and will be called upon, possibly as a captain, to lead multiple units. His playoff experience will hopefully pay off in a big way. He is a known playmaker, who should benefit by playing behind one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

Jordan Poyer is a much less known quantity. He has only played in a handful of NFL games (10 career starts), and is coming off a season ending injury. The coaching staff clearly trusts him, because they didn’t reinforce the Safety position significantly thru free agency or the draft following his signing.

To thrust the responsibility of being a starting NFL Safety on Poyer is asking a lot. He will clearly take on such a challenge and he has the physical tools to succeed. At the same time, it’s important to build depth and you have to be weary of this gamble if you are the Buffalo Bills.

As the Bills starting Free Safety, they are asking Poyer to start more games than he has in his entire NFL career thus far.

This brings me to my main point, the Bills like many teams are going to be keeping a sharp eye on the Jairus Byrd market. Yes, there is a market. If Poyer struggles early in camp, even without an injury, the Bills should pounce on the chance to bring back the Byrd man.

Byrd left Buffalo in 2014 for what appeared to be a monster deal with New Orleans, 6 years and $54 million. On his way out he burned a lot of bridges in Buffalo, but really all he was doing was taking a large payday that the Bills (and many other teams) weren’t offering.

Byrd was supposed to be a savior to a porous Saints defense. He was going to create turnovers while teams threw to try and keep pace with the Saints offense. That plan was derailed by injury.

His first season in New Orleans he played a total of 4 games, in his second he got up to 11. Yet in 2016, Byrd played in all 16 games. His stats aren’t amazing and he only recorded 2 interceptions, but having a fully healthy season is a start.

Most players say that rehab isn’t the same as training for a season. Byrd has been in constant rehab for the better part of 3 seasons. Having a full season under his belt for the first time since 2012, means that he can enter this offseason in full pre-season training mode.

During his 5 seasons in Buffalo he recorded 22 interceptions. In his 3 seasons in New Orleans he recorded 3 interceptions. Did he suddenly forget how to play football? Are his injuries so debilitating that he is now a shell of his former self?

If it’s the latter then Jairus Byrd may not offer a lot to an NFL team. However, the Bills have something that should be intriguing to Byrd. The Bills are going to be playing a zone defense, with his father running the secondary. The zone defense means that unlike a Ryan system (which Byrd played under in New Orleans) he won’t be asked to do more than patrol centerfield for turnovers.

Byrd’s natural instincts since he was drafted was to be a centerfielder causing turnovers. He offers the Bills something McDermott wants in turnovers. He can also provide a veteran presence in the defense, and an insurance policy should Poyer not pan out.

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The Bills need to make an offer to Byrd, IF his asking price has dropped significantly. This could be a win/win deal for both sides, where Byrd gets one year in a familiar place to prove his value again for one last multi-year contract in his 30s.

For the Bills, signing Byrd would mean you are pushing Poyer to a backup role. Without seeing Poyer start over 10 games in the NFL is that a bad thing? He only made it to week 6 as an NFL starter last season before going on season ending injured reserve. If Byrd has an injury problem, Poyer can step in while not rushing his own rehab.

Poyer like all of McDermott’s free agents can play special teams. This means he will contribute significantly regardless of a Byrd signing. Asking both Hyde and Poyer to play special teams seems to be an obvious risk. Signing a veteran like Byrd could help mitigate that risk on the defensive starters and scheme.

Oh, and Byrd has played on Special Teams in the past, so McDermott can check that box.

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As a Bills fan would you be excited to see Jairus Byrd back in a Bills uniform? I would, he brings back excitement to a defense that will be trying to recapture the excitement that was lost during the Rex Ryan years.