Which NFL Teams Should Trade for Buffalo Bills Safety Jairus Byrd?
On Sunday, it was reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter that the Bills are, in fact, willing to listen to trade offers for the disgruntled safety. This is the latest in a long line of events that are hinting at Byrd's impending departure.
Bills know wisest course of action is to trade franchise S Jairus Byrd and they now are open to dealing him, per sources. Talks ongoing.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 6, 2013
Byrd finally signed his franchise tender in August, ending a lengthy holdout that was triggered by the inability of the safety and the organization to settle on a long-term deal. Simply put, Byrd wanted to be the highest paid safety in the league, and the Bills weren't willing to offer him that kind of money.
To make matters worse, Byrd was suffering from plantar fasciitis and would miss time because of it. Finally, on Oct. 1, Byrd practiced fully and seemed ready to make his season debut. However, just two days later, he was listed as inactive.
The writing was on the wall, and now it is clear—the Bills are ready to part ways with their longtime free safety.
The former second-round selection is a highly talented athlete and has been very effective in his four-plus years manning the Buffalo secondary. During his career, Byrd has tallied 308 tackles, two sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 18 interceptions and two touchdowns.
He will be a highly coveted acquisition for a playoff contender in need of a defensive playmaker. Since Byrd is set to become an unrestricted free agent next season, it makes sense for the Bills to get what they can for him now.
Let's take a look at the teams that would do well to acquire the services of this veteran.
For the Eagles, taking a shot at Byrd makes plenty of sense. Head coach Chip Kelly has brought a high-octane offense to Philadelphia, and the Eagles have not struggled to put up points.
However, the Eagles secondary has not helped Kelly's cause. The poor play of the safeties in particular has been a contributing factor to the defense giving up an average of 326 yards per game, which ranks 29th in the league.
The Eagles' defense is awesome at fixing offenses.— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) October 6, 2013
Offseason acquisition Patrick Chung is one of the league's lowest-ranked safeties, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Chung has a negative-4.5 overall rating, including a negative-5.7 rating in coverage. He's ranked a dismal 70th out of 82 eligible safeties.
The Eagles are still contenders this season, mostly due to the weakness of the NFC East as a whole. The team also has over $18.6 million in available cap space, the fourth highest in the league. With so much money to work with, Philadelphia would have a great chance of locking up Byrd for not only this year but many years to come.
Monetarily speaking, the Bears are not in as great a shape as the Eagles. However, they do have over $4.8 million available in cap space, which is above the league average.
Chicago has a very talented defense and boasts top-flight cornerbacks as well. However, the safety position is not on par with the rest of the squad.
The Bears have two of the worst-ranked safeties in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Of 82 safeties who qualify for PFF's metrics, Chicago free safety Chris Conte ranks 65th overall with a negative-4.2 rating. Conte is solid against the pass, but is severely lacking in run support. This is a department in which Byrd excels.
Chris Conte got away with some serious jersey grabbin'. He is toast out there— Justin Higdon (@afc2nfc) October 6, 2013
Chicago has a winning record in a tough division, and Byrd could be the key to a postseason berth.
Yes, the Raiders, with a 2-3 record, have dreams of making a postseason run in 2013. Terrelle Pryor has been impressive, and the future for this franchise is suddenly looking up.
Over the offseason, the Raiders managed to put a Band-Aid on the free-safety position by signing veteran Charles Woodson to a one-year deal. Woodson has played well so far in 2013, but the 37-year-old safety is not in the team's future plans.
This would be a great time for Oakland to bring in Byrd.
The Raiders currently have $7.8 million available in cap space, which allows them plenty of room to maneuver for a high-priced veteran. The upside to trading for Byrd is avoiding a potential bidding war for his services this offseason.
If the Raiders are able to extend Byrd for a substantial amount of money, they could potentially avoid paying him the five-year, $41.25 million contract that Dashon Goldson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the offseason.
If this trade were to happen, it would be under different circumstances than those with the aforementioned teams. The Jaguars are struggling badly and need to start rebuilding. With a total of $21.6 million in cap space (second in the league), why not take a shot at a defensive playmaker?
#Jaguars place Dwight Lowery on IR with a concussion. That means your starting safeties are rookies Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans.— Michael Kelly (@MichaelLKelly) October 8, 2013
This team needs to start spending money, if they ever intend to right the ship. Currently, the Jaguars are starting two rookie safeties, Josh Evans and Johnathan Cyprien, and both are struggling. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the two first-year defensive backs are ranked 72nd and 82nd, respectively, so acquiring a veteran like Byrd to mentor these two youngsters could prove invaluable.
More than likely, the largest amount of money spent by the Jaguars will be on the offensive side of the ball. The team is currently ranked dead last in the league in points and yards per game. However, the opportunity to acquire a defensive leader of Byrd's caliber does not come around often.
Obviously, the Jaguars don't stand a chance this season. However, if they were to gamble on Byrd, the future would look a bit brighter.
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