Although they haven't made it official yet, the Buffalo Bills are expected to hire Gill Byrd as their secondary coach.
A four-time All-Pro as a player, Gill Byrd has been coaching since 2003. He's perhaps best known to Buffalo fans, though, for being the father of Jairus Byrd, a three-time Pro Bowler for the Bills from 2009-13.
Jairus Byrd has been with the New Orleans Saints for the past three seasons. He left the Bills after playing under the franchise tag in 2013, getting a six-year contract from the Saints worth potentially more than $50 million. The first two years of that deal looked like a disaster for New Orleans. Byrd played in just four games because of a knee injury in 2014, then had an average 2015 season, with 53 tackles and one interception in 12 starts.
He bounced back with his best season in New Orleans to date by making 15 starts in 2016, with 82 tackles and two interceptions. With an $11.7-million cap hit in 2017, however, there is no guarantee Byrd will be back with the Saints.
"There is no way Byrd will stay at that price," writes ESPN Saints beat writer Mike Triplett in a recent column. "And a few months ago, I thought he would likely be released. But then he started to play his best football in three years with the Saints during the second half of last season, drawing praise from coach Sean Payton even before he intercepted two passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16."
Triplett suggests that Byrd could stay in New Orleans, "but it will definitely require a substantial pay cut. At least slicing his salary in half, if not more."
Is that something Byrd would be willing to do? He was determined to make every dollar possible when he left the Bills as a free agent. He'll have to gauge his potential earning power on the open market. Even if Byrd were to cut his $7.9-million base salary in half, he could still earn more than $4 million with bonuses, and after three uneven years, that might be more than he could find as a free agent. If the Saints were to release Byrd, they'd save $3.7 million in cap space, but have an $8 million dead money charge against their cap.
Safety figures to be a big priority for the Bills this offseason. Aaron Williams' playing future still has not been determined, and fellow starter Corey Graham is heading into the final year of his contract. Playing under his father could have some appeal to Byrd, but if history tells us anything, that decision will come down to money.