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Jairus Byrd wishes Buffalo the best, but admits continual losing was a grind

Jairus Byrd can be diplomatic only to a point.

The Pro Bowl safety claimed he hadn't ruled out a return to the Buffalo Bills until he actually signed his lucrative New Orleans Saints contract.

He tempered his praise for the Saints organization with avowals that it shouldn't reflect poorly on the Bills.

He stressed his appreciation for the Bills and their fans by posting this message on his Facebook page this afternoon:

"It was an absolute blessing to have been a part of the Buffalo Bills for the last five years. Russ Brandon and Ralph Wilson, thank you so much for giving me my start in the NFL. To the entire Bills organization and all of the amazing fans, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

But there's no denying that losing got old in Buffalo.

"It's tough," Byrd told me by phone this afternoon from New Orleans. "It's definitely tough, not being able to win, to have your season be over early, never having a chance to compete late in the season."

In Byrd's five seasons with the Bills, they never won more than six games. He played for three head coaches and four defensive coordinators.

Had Byrd stuck around, he would have played for a fifth coordinator in six years.

"It was definitely a hard thing to go through," Byrd said, "but it makes you better. You appreciate things a lot more.

"By no means am I saying anything negative about the Bills and the direction they're going. They're heading in the right direction, but it is what it is."

The Bills declined to use their franchise tag on Byrd for a second straight year. Two sources told me the Bills' best offer averaged about $7.5 million a season.

The Saints signed Byrd to a six-year contract worth $54 million and nearly $28 million in guarantees.

New Orleans got Byrd's first visit because it was the most aggressive in pursuing him. Other teams reportedly interested were the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.

Byrd said one of the reasons he chose the Saints was "to further my legacy" in football. That's important to Byrd, the son of two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Gill Byrd and protégé of Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams.

"What do people remember you for? What mark did you make on this game?" Byrd said. "That's what legacy means to me."

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