- Mike Rodak, ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter
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With the free-agent signing period approaching, we'll take a closer look at each of the Buffalo Bills' free agents, finding the closest matches in last offseason's free-agent class:
Pending Bills free agent: Jairus Byrd
Experience: 5 seasons
2013 stats: 11 games played (9 starts), 48 tackles, four interceptions, one sack, six passes defensed, one forced fumble
2013 snaps: 55.5 percent (defense), 11.2 percent (special teams)
Last offseason's closest match: Dashon Goldson
Experience: 6 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 16 games (16 starts), 69 tackles, three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, one forced fumble (for San Francisco)
2012 snaps: 96.9 percent (defense), 27.1 percent (special teams)
Signed with: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Contract: 5 years, $4.5 roster bonus in 2013, $3 million roster bonus in 2014, base salaries of $4.5 million (2013; guaranteed), $6 million (2014), $7.5 million (2015), $7.5 million (2016), $6.75 million (2017), workout bonuses of $500,000 per season
Overview: When Byrd was franchised last February, Goldson became the top safety available on the free-agent market. The Buccaneers, looking to improve a struggling secondary, signed Goldson and traded for cornerback Darrelle Revis. The highlight of Goldson's first season in Tampa may have been his one-game suspension for an illegal hit. Otherwise, his play-making statistics weren't necessarily on par with a top-paid safety: He snagged one interception and forced one fumble.
Last offseason's second-closest match: William Moore
Experience: 4 seasons (entering 2013)
2012 stats: 12 games (12 starts), 75 tackles, four interceptions, one sack, eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles
2012 snaps: 74.1 percent (defense), 10.7 percent (special teams)
Signed with: Atlanta Falcons
Contract: 5 years, $8.25 million signing bonus, base salaries of $2.25 million (2013; guaranteed), $3.5 million (2014; guaranteed), $3.5 million (2015), $4.5 million (2016), $6.25 million (2017)
Overview: After being drafted in the second round in 2009, Moore has been one of the more underrated safeties in the NFL. He missed four games in 2012, the final season of his rookie contract, with a hamstring injury, but was still able to cash in with the Falcons. He returned in 2013 to start all 16 games, intercepting three passes while setting career highs with two sacks and three forced fumbles.
Verdict: When healthy, Byrd is better than either Goldson or Moore. If Byrd is not assigned the franchise tag by the Bills again -- the deadline is March 3 -- then he will hit the open market. Expect Byrd to command a deal in the five-year range that pays him more than Goldson, and expect at least one team to make such an offer. The biggest question is: Will the Bills be competitive in the negotiations? They have the cap space to pull off a big deal but that doesn't mean they will. CEO Russ Brandon and general manger Doug Whaley will have to decide -- or more likely, have already decided -- whether that sort of financial commitment to one player is in the best interest of the organization. Brandon already opened the Bills' wallet for Mario Williams and another big-money deal on defense may be too much.
With the free-agent signing period approaching, we'll take a closer look at each of the Buffalo Bills' free agents, finding the closest matches in last offseason's free-agent class:Pending Bills free agent: Jairus ByrdPosition: SafetyExperience: 5 seasons2013 stats: 11 games played (9 starts), 48 tackles, four interceptions, one sack, six passes defensed, one forced fumble2013 snaps: 55.