Jairus Byrd will not receive the franchise tag from the Buffalo Bills this offseason, which will allow him to enter free agency next week. Byrd is one of the league's top cover safeties and his exceptional ball skills are an added bonus. Coming out in the 2009 draft, Byrd was selected by the Bills in the second round. Since his arrival to the NFL, the 3-time Pro-Bowler has recorded 22 interceptions and over 350 tackles, while forcing 11 fumbles. The former Oregon Duck has been very consistent over his five years in Buffalo, being dominant in both defending against the pass and the rush.
Byrd's ability of finding the ball and his ability to cover receivers would be a great asset for the Jets' secondary. He can sit in centerfield or he can come up to stop the run, either way he will find a way to make a play. Being such a versatile safety, he can find a spot on any NFL team's roster. If he were to wear green and white next year, Rex Ryan would welcome him with open arms. Byrd is familiar with the system that Ryan runs in New York as he played under a similar scheme in Buffalo. Having a playmaker on the defensive side that can pose the threat of intercepting quarterbacks is always a bonus, especially when your team has a top-10 rushing defense. Since the Jets have Dawan Landry locked up for one more year and Reed is expected to return for another season, the services of Byrd would force one of the veterans to step down from the starting role. This will only benefit the team however, because adding another ball-hawking defensive back will be a great addition to the struggling pass defense.
Adding the safety to Gang Green's secondary will create a two-headed monster on defense. Since the Jets are so stingy when it comes to giving up yards on the ground, teams will be forced to pass the ball. This was a problem in the beginning of last year as the secondary was the weak point of the defense. However, Byrd would immediately impact the team's secondary by increasing the turnover ratio. The playmaking safety is notorious for intercepting quarterbacks and forcing receivers to cough up the ball. If New York were to sign him this offseason, the team will need him to continue his dominance in the back end of the field to create a dual threat.
Signing a premier free-agent like Byrd would immediately boost the Jets' secondary. His knack for intercepting the ball and his instinctual playmaking abilities would complement Rex Ryan's defense. However, since Byrd will be searching for top dollar and New York has glaring needs in other areas, bringing in the former Buffalo Bill would be a bad move. With the amount of money that they would be spending on Byrd, the Jets can address other areas such as providing more, quality weapons for second-year quarterback Geno Smith. This year's draft will have many younger, cheaper, and talented options for the Jets to search for a franchise safety to play behind Landry and Reed.