Bills safety Jairus Byrd signs 1-year tender

By JOHN WAWROW - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-20 22:06

The Buffalo Bills signed Jairus Byrd to a one-year franchise tender Tuesday night, an agreement that gives the safety $6.9 million this upcoming season.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Byrd missed all of the team's offseason workouts and nearly all of training camp. The Bills break camp late Wednesday afternoon.

A person familiar with Byrd's plans told The Associated Press that the player is not in the Buffalo area and intends to join the team within the next couple of days.

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The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have only announced that Byrd has signed.

Byrd, a second-round pick out of Oregon in 2009, has 18 career interceptions - tied for the NFL's third-highest total since 2009.

Byrd is expected to be a focal point of the team's new scheme under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Speed and versatility have been the foundation of Buffalo's defense and the team has used a variety of pressure packages this preseason. That approach would appear to play to Byrd's strengths by creating opportunities for him in the secondary.

Byrd is not expected to play in Buffalo's third preseason game Saturday against Washington and it's uncertain if he will be ready to play in the team's preseason finale Aug. 29.

Earlier on Tuesday, general manager Doug Whaley said Byrd will have some work to do to learn the new system.

``A lot of it's just installation and the mental part of it,'' Whaley said. ``It's a new system, it's an intricate system and safeties do make a lot of calls so he's missed that. ... So he's going to have some ground to make up but he's a professional. I know he'll come in here ready to work and try to contribute as much as possible.''

When Byrd returns, it's expected that he will replace third-year pro Da'Norris Searcy in the secondary.

Former cornerback Aaron Williams has impressed since making the switch from corner to safety this offseason and is listed as the team's top strong safety on the depth chart. Byrd is Buffalo's top free safety.

Byrd was Buffalo's most consistent defender in 2012 and was added to the Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement.

He led the Bills with five interceptions and four forced fumbles and finished fourth on the team with 76 tackles. The three players ahead of him on that list - George Wilson, Nick Barnett and Kelvin Sheppard - are no longer with the team.

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AP freelancer Mark Ludwiczak contributed to this story for Pittsford, N.Y.