Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who is expected to be counted on heavily by the Sabres this season, will miss 7-10 of training camp with an upper-body injury.
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

A Jairus Byrd contract extension is far from finalized and still very much an uncertainty.

Even so, Buffalo Bills fans will be glad to hear what two league sources have told me: Preliminary talks have been pleasant so far.

Compared to last year's cold war between Bills senior vice president of football administration Jim Overdorf and Eugene Parker, Byrd's agent, this should be viewed as an encouraging start.

Byrd wants a long-term contract extension that pays him fair market value. When the Bills used their franchise tag on him last year, he was denied the opportunity to find out what the NFL thought he was worth.

With Byrd frustrated and both sides playing hardball, they rarely spoke and failed to reach a multiyear deal. Byrd played 2013 on a franchise tag that paid him $6.916 million, but his contract is up again.

Byrd's tag for this year would be $8.299 million, and the Bills have until Monday to use it. A contract extension before then seems unlikely.

So the Bills could use their franchise tag to retain Byrd's rights and buy additional time to hammer out a multiyear deal.

That said, negotiations are dictated by deadlines. Once Monday comes and goes, the next big deadline for the franchise tag will be July 15, when teams must sign their tagged players to multiyear extensions or else be limited to only one-year deals.

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