by Pat Freeman
This past off season the Buffalo Bills organization went through a significant amount of change in its front office. These changes included a new president and CEO Russ Brandon, a new General Manager in Doug Whaley, and of course a new head in Doug Marrone. When an organization experiences that many changes the promise of a new philosophy and a changing of the culture are often talked about. Well I mention this because there are two people that has remained consistent in this organization for a number of years, Jeffrey Littman Chief Financial Officer, and Jim Overdorf Vice President of Football Administration (contracts). These two are the real money men behind the Buffalo Bills budget, and financial decision making. It has been their job to balance the budget of this organization to the liking of owner Ralph Wilson for a number of years including some of the most successful years in franchise history but they have also been the architects of some of the worst years too. Most recently the last 14 years where we have seen an exodus of our drafted talent when they have reached the peak of their playing potential and, they are either not offered a contract matching their performance on the field, or just let go. Do you remember these names Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, Nate Clements, Jason Peters, and, most recently Andy Levitre who never missed a game for this organization during his tenure here?
This brings me to who I believe is the best safety in football today, and who NFL.com lists as one of the top five at his position of safety Jairus Byrd. During his tenure with the Bills he has performed at a pro bowl level under four different defensive systems, and he entered his contract year after another stellar campaign expecting to be compensated for his on field performance. During this process of hoping to receive a lucrative long term contract from the Buffalo Bills he was designated as a franchise player. Meaning that the Bills held exclusive negotiating rights to him in 2013 and if a contract could not be reached by July he would be tendered a one year offer equal to the average of the top five salaries at his position. Many of you would say that is not a bad deal for anybody to make that kind of money, but football is such a sport that each player really only gets one opportunity to secure their future based on their market worth. Jairus Byrd deserves to be the highest paid safety in football based on his body of work on the football field, and his excellent conduct off the field also. Let’s compare NFL.com top safeties and four key stats.
Earl Thomas Seattle Seahawks- 14 Interceptions, 246 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 30 Passes defended.
Jairus Byrd Buffalo Bills- 22 Interceptions, 251 Tackles, 3 sacks, 33 passes defended
TJ Ward Cleveland Browns- 5 Interceptions, 238 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 23 passes defended
Devin McCourty New England Patriots- 15 Interceptions, 240 Tackles, 1 sack, 49 Passes defended.
Eric Berry Kansas City Chiefs- 1 interception, 208 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 8 passed defended.
In conclusion the highest paid safety in the league is Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers who was rewarded by his consistent play by being paid the highest going rate for the position of safety when his contract came up. It’s time for the Buffalo Bills to do the same thing and take care of Jairus Byrd.
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