With the Buffalo Bills 2013 season now complete the focus switches back to offseason moves, and once again that involves the decision to re-sign 3-time Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd. The 5th year safety finished off his season in full swing after missing the first 5 weeks due to plantar fasciitis, earning the $6.919 million per the franchise tag the Bills offered him in 2013.
In May of 2013, our premium team evaluated Byrd's performance against the top safeties in the NFL to provide a forecast for what his long-term deal might look like.
What's Next for 2014?
The Bills face a very similar situation with Byrd a season later. He overcame injury/controversy per his contract and holdout to perform well above the average safety standard for 11 weeks. Should the Bills choose to do so, the franchise tag value for a safety in 2014 is estimated at just over $8 million, good enough to make Byrd the 4th highest average paid safety in 2014. He was the 8th highest average paid safety in 2013.
The Bills can begin to talk long-term deal with Byrd and his camp after the regular season (December 30th), with the 2014 league year starting on February 3, 2014. NFL Free agency begins March 11th, also the first day that trades can be processed - both important dates to the Bills and Jairus Byrd.
Jairus Byrd is not just an elite safety in the modern NFL format, he's clearly a strong fit for the Bills complex defensive system -even under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. While the Bills have been reluctant to make big contract splashes in the past, recent signings have shown a change in heart (Mario Williams, 6 years $96 million; Kyle Williams, 6 years $33.5 million). It makes sense for both sides of this situation to find a happy medium in terms of years and dollars and to come to an agreement for a long-term stay in a talented Buffalo defense.
In light of this, we'll take our previous forecast and update it to include Jairus Byrd's 2013 statistics, using our same variable safeties to assess how the recent season has affected the value of Byrd in terms of dollars going forward. The result will provide us with a projected value for Jairus Byrd's likely extension (or free agent contract).
• In 2013 Byrd was ranked #8 among safeties by Pro Football Focus, even with just 624 snaps.
• QBs who threw into Byrd's coverage averaged a QB Rating of 35, second only to Glover Quin (DET).
• Byrd's 4 INT were 3rd among all NFL safeties, even playing just 11 games.
• Our previous forecast for Byrd (May 2013) valued the new deal at 5 years $45 million.
Jairus Byrd is currently 27 (won't be 28 until October 2014) so we'll assume that number for our evaluation purposes. We've located four safeties of similar age, all with top contracts and statistical value in recent season. To determine a more likely starting point for our Byrd numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
|Player||Length||Value||Avg. Salary||Age When Signed|
|Eric Weddle||5||$40 million||$8,000,000||26|
|Antrel Rolle||5||$37 million||$7,400,000||27|
|Michael Griffin||5||$35 million||$7,000,000||27|
|Dashon Goldson||5||$41.25 million||$8,250,000||28|
Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.
View the list of Top Average Paid Safeties in the NFL
Because Goldson was older than Byrd (will be), we'll bring the above contracts down to his age by subtracting from the overall years to make each variable player 26 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:
|Length||Value||Avg. Salary (slope)|
|5||$ 38,235,294||$ 7,647,059|
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the two years prior to signing their second contract by showing Games Played, Tackles, Assists, Interceptions, and the percentage the opposing WRs caught the ball against the DB. The results will provide us with an indication of his "prime" value prior to signing an extension.
Byrd suffered a serious planter fasciitiis injury to start 2013, keeping him out of the Bills' first 5 games. While this is important to include in our valuation, in terms of negotiation, we'll look at these comparisons using both Byrd's ACTUAL 2013 numbers, and the PROJECTED numbers if Byrd had played all 16 games in 2013.
All stats provided by Pro Football Reference
|Player||Games||Tackles||Assists||INT||WR Catch %|
|Eric Weddle (2009-10, SD)||14.5||73.5||15||2||62.45|
|Antrel Rolle (2008-09, ARI)||15.5||68.5||11||2.5||70.2|
|Michael Griffin (2010-11, TEN)||16||72.5||19||3||60.4|
|Dashon Goldson (2011-12, SF)||15||54.5||13.5||4.5||60.85|
|Jairus Byrd (2012-13, BUF) (actual)||13.5||45||17||4.5||63.1|
|Jairus Byrd (2012-13, BUF) (projected)||16||53||19.5||5.4||63.1|
|% Difference (actual)||-11.48 (-16.4%)||-33.09 (-28.26%)||16.24 (-41.24%)||50% (+17%)||.59% (+1.18%)|
|% Difference (PROJECTED)||4.92%||-21.19%||33.33%||80.00%||0.59%|
|Actual Overall Prime % (w/ injury)||4.45%|
|Projected Overall Prime % (w/o injury)||19.53%|
The prime percentage for our previous forecast was 18.02%, due largely to Byrd having not missed a game in his previous two seasons with the Bills (we've shown the change from May to December in parenthesis above). The five games missed with a foot injury dropped the majority of overall production, obviously. But Byrd still managed to improve on his turnover and coverage numbers in just 11 2013 games. Bottom line, Byrd still stands out both on the field and on paper when placed against the best safeties in football.
We'll factor his Actual Prime Percentage of 4.45%, into our previously determined base value.
Byrd hadn't missed a game prior to his foot injury, so it's difficult to place too much concern on the games missed. We'll eliminate the prime percentage in lei of this, and provide a straight average in terms of guaranteed dollars for this forecast.
Length of the Contract
Now a year older (27) Byrd still qualifies for the maximum going length in terms of contracts for elite pass coverage players. All of our variable safeties signed 5 year contracts at or near the age of 27, so we'll continue to place Byrd at this length.
Value of the Contract
Our initial age-adjusted regression provided an average annual salary at $7.65M, a figure that would place him 5th highest on the average annual safety list. With our slight statistical prime adjustment (4.45%) this value can be increased slightly to provide a bit more value to the overall payday.
Thoughts Surrounding this Negotiation
Our new, adjusted annual salary for Byrd comes in just below $8 million. This number holds a good deal of meaning in this situation, as it nearly matches the projected franchise tag value for safeties in 2014 ($8.012M). It's likely that the Bills can enter the negotiating table with a take $8 million for 1 year (tagged), or take it for 5 years (new contract) mindset.
The Bills have approximately $113 million allocated to their 2014 salary cap to date (including dead money). With the team cap projected to come in around $126.3 million, the Bills certainly have room for signings and extensions this offseason, and Jairus Byrd seemingly has done enough to warrant such.
When taking away the 5 games missed in 2013, and projecting the numbers Byrd would have put together with 16 games played, his statistical prime percentage could have pushed as high as 19.53% - pushing the valued average annual to $9.13 million per season for five years ($45.69 million overall). Troy Polumalu currently holds the highest average salary among NFL safeties as $9.125 million per year, a figure that Byrd's camp will certainly be considering.
• Average annual salary: $7,995,000
• Guaranteed money: $18,236,130
• Average annual salary: $9,100,000
• Guaranteed money: $19,000,000