The Buffalo Bills entered the offseason with two major in-house free agents: safety Jairus Byrd and guard Andy Levitre. The Bills used the franchise tag to keep Byrd but lost Levitre Tuesday at the start of free agency.
Levitre signed a five-year, $39 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Levitre is one of the NFL's top guards and has not missed a start in his four-year career.
The Bills only had one franchise tag and used it on Byrd. It is hard to disagree with that rationale. However, it is somewhat baffling that Buffalo made it a priority to re-sign backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (one year, $4.5 million) and backup cornerback Leodis McKelvin (four years, $20 million) to sizable contracts before getting Levitre in the fold. Perhaps some of that money could have gone toward making a push to secure arguably Buffalo's best offensive lineman.
It was clear a quality player like Levitre would get interest on the open market. Buffalo was willing to take that risk and eventually was outbid. Tennessee paid an average of nearly $8 million per season, which makes Levitre one of the league's highest paid at his position.
Still, this will be a big loss for the Bills. Perhaps the only good news is the guard position is not too difficult to replace.