Since the Buffalo Bills have locked up their key 2013 free agent, Fred Jackson, it's time to work on other players who will become free agents after this year, too.
Reports have surfaced saying the Bills will try and lock up other players before the offseason ends.
The most important player that deserves a long-term deal is Jairus Byrd.
Byrd is one of the young leaders on the defense and has proven himself as one of the top free safeties in the NFL.
Since his rookie year in 2009, Byrd has produced numbers that come close to safeties the likes of Ed Reed, Eric Weddle and Malcolm Jenkins.
Since 2009, Byrd has totaled 232 total tackles. He finished his rookie year with 45 and then totaled 89 and 98 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. This shows Byrd's ability to get involved in stopping the run game along with becoming more involved year after year in making plays.
With opponents' offenses focusing on stopping the Bills' defensive line, the safeties and linebackers will need to become more focused and make plays for the Bills' defense.
Compared to other free safeties, Byrd's numbers rival the best. Ed Reed has totaled 139 tackles in the last three years while Malcolm Jenkins has 196 and Eric Weddle finished with 266.
As for interceptions, Reed leads everyone with 14, followed closely by Byrd with 13. Weddle and Jenkins trail behind with six and three, respectively.
Weddle is considered the best free safety in the NFL. With Byrd's numbers close to Weddle's after only three years, it shows how good of a safety Byrd can become in the NFL. He can continue to develop and improve with more playing time and experience.
Byrd can become the NFL's best safety by continuing at his current pace. If he totals 80-90 tackles a year and averages five interceptions a season, he can make a major impact for the Bills. He's someone who can get involved in stopping a team's run game along with being a threat stopping the passing game as well.
Signing Byrd to an extension this offseason would be smart for Bills GM Buddy Nix to accomplish. If he continues to improve this season, especially in his contract year, he could increase his price for an extension next offseason.
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