The objective of Jairus Byrd and his agent is to engineer a trade from the Buffalo Bills by the NFL trade deadline, two league sources told The News.
The negotiating position is hardly a surprise, given the impasse in contract talks between the two sides and the grim demeanor Byrd presented in his initial news conference upon reporting to the team two weeks ago.
Nevertheless, the information – from an executive on another NFL club and another agent who is not employed by Byrd – lends credence to the uncomfortable situation that exists between the Bills and their Pro Bowl safety.
The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29, after the eighth week of the regular season. Just how uncomfortable Byrd’s relationship with the Bills will get and how much interest Byrd will stimulate on the trade market figure to be persistent issues over the next two months.
A team interested in Byrd would have to want to both give him a big new contract and give the Bills an acceptable offer, surely a draft pick, in return. One factor that might work in Byrd’s favor is injuries. A team that loses a safety early in the year might be more inclined to pitch for Byrd.
However, what would the Bills deem an acceptable offer? A second-round pick? Or a third- or fourth-rounder? Obviously, a deal the Bills deem acceptable has yet to be offered.
Further complicating the situation is the news from coach Doug Marrone this week that Byrd is dealing with plantar fasciitis in his foot.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot. It is caused by straining the ligament that supports the arch of the foot. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament, leading to pain and swelling.
There is no “cure” for the injury. Instead, a combination of rest, icing and stretching is most often utilized to treat the condition.
The nature of plantar fasciitis creates the possibility of making Byrd an uncertain participant on any given week. That could put a strain on the roster if injuries pile up. The Bills were one of only two teams keeping six safeties on the 53-man roster as of Wednesday. The rest of the league is about evenly split between four and five safeties on the roster.
“It’s really a condition,” Marrone said Monday of the injury. “Each guy is different in how they come back from it. Right now he’s working extremely hard to get back from it. That’s more of a day-to-day issue right now.”
Byrd was limited in practice on Wednesday. During the early portion of practice that was open to the media, he was working strictly with the scout team, running plays against the Bills’ starting defenders.
Marrone said Wednesday Byrd has a chance to be available for Sunday’s opener against New England.
“Yes,” Marrone said. “He’s working extremely hard to get back, really working hard on the game plan. I feel very comfortable with his knowledge, and he’s out there doing things with us. It’s just a matter of one day I think he’s going to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I feel great, let’s go.’ ”
Byrd last week declined to take advantage of an opportunity to deny he had asked for a trade.
“I’m going to leave the private matters of the business side between us,” Byrd said. “But I don’t really want to comment on other things.”
Byrd is guaranteed a salary of $6.9 million this season, which is the value of the NFL’s franchise tag for his position. That makes him the eighth highest paid safety this season, from an average-per-year perspective.
If Byrd were to miss significant time this season, would it hinder the ability of his agent, Eugene Parker, to get a big contract offer from another team? It’s debatable.
As former Bills general manager John Butler used to say about free agency, “All it takes is one team” to meet a player’s demand.