There was no greater position that the Philadelphia Eagles needed to upgrade this offseason than in the defensive secondary. That was obviously the case as the team signed two new starting corners and two players who could potentially be the new starters at safety.
I say “potential” new starters at safety because, while the tandem of Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung would be an upgrade over the tandem of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, neither player is a lock to actually start come opening day.
Phillips has health issues and Chung probably would not start over Nate Allen if Phillips ends up being healthy enough to play.
When the offseason began, I had Bills safety Jairus Byrd as tops on my list of potential free agent signings if he became available. Unfortunately, he never made it since he was slapped with the franchise tag, as was expected.
However, nothing has happened since then and Byrd still has not signed his tender. Reports are coming out saying that the sides are about $2 million apart on annual compensation and are currently not even talking.
In fact, Chris Brown — who is the Dave Spadaro for BuffaloBills.com — has sparked speculation of possibly trading Byrd by saying he doesn’t think they “can rule out the potential of a sign and trade.”
Then, there are some who think they’re “reading the tea leaves” by analyzing the below recent tweet by Byrd combined with the fact the two sides aren’t talking…
#BillsMafia y’all are dope, i will always have much respect for you.
— jairus byrd (@jairusbyrd) July 3, 2013
I guess it’s the way he phrased “I will always” that made some folks think he made some sort of Freudian slip and signifies he knows he’s on his way out of town.
Furthermore, back in May, Brown quoted Byrd saying how he doesn’t feel the need to remain with one team for his entire career and that he would take into consideration what direction a team is going (besides just money) if he had to decide on signing with another team…
Chris Brown: I asked him knowing that his father played for one NFL club his entire career, would it influence him in wanting to re-sign with the Bills (keep in mind this was before he was designated as the franchise player).
“No,” said Byrd. ”I mean he really didn’t have a chance back then. When he talked that was kind of pre-free agency and it got started right toward the end of his career so it wasn’t really something that was big back then. The game has changed a lot.”
Chris Brown: I then asked him besides money what would play into his free agent decision making when assessing a situation.
“You’ve just got to look at where the team is headed, what’s going on with the situation,” he said. ”You’ve got to take in a lot of things. That’s something that when the time comes I have to do.”
The Bills also have a history of trading franchise-type players that they couldn’t work out deals with. In 2009, they traded Jason Peters to Philly and in 2003 they traded franchise-tagged WR Peerless Price to Atlanta.
What makes this a little more intriguing is the fact that Chip Kelly should know Byrd to some extent. Kelly was Oregon’s offensive coordinator for Byrd’s final two seasons there before he entered the draft.
So, what do all of these things mean? Absolutely nothing, unfortunately.
The fact is that Buffalo has plenty of room under the cap to sign Byrd and it would seem counterproductive to allow a player of his talent and age get away.
Byrd is in the prime of his career at age 26 (27 in October) and has established himself as one of the top safeties in the NFL for the past two years. In his four year career, he has 308 tackles, 18 INTs, 27 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles and two sacks.
Pro Football Focus had him rated as the second and third-best safety in 2012 and 2011 respectively.
However, if there is even a sliver of a chance that Buffalo would trade him, the Eagles would be fools not to at least investigate a possible deal. Like the Bills, the Eagles also have the cap space to accommodate a deal.
The compensation would be the tricky part. While Byrd is a very good player, I would have to give pause to sacrificing a first round draft pick for him. However, Chris Brown stated that a starting offensive guard would be nice as compensation.
I could be talked into trading Evan Mathis or Todd Herremans for Byrd, particularly if they feel that Danny Watkins has turned himself around. Hell, now that I think of it, that would be a no-brainer!
If the Eagles were able to bring Byrd into the nest, it would solidify a glaring hole on the defense that they’ve been struggling to fill since Brian Dawkins left.
Byrd would be insurance in case Phillips isn’t healthy or can’t get back to his previous level of play. And even if he does return to form, Byrd and Phillips would be a pretty damn good pair of safeties!
With all that said, the chances of this actually happening are almost the same as Aaron Hernandez being the next winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
It’s just fun to think about during this agonizingly slow time of year for football talk.