Jairus Byrd open to Bills return

Three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd said Tuesday he remains in contact with the Buffalo Bills, a day after the team decided not to put the franchise tag on the pending free agent.

"The door is not closed on anything. I'm not closing the door on any opportunities at all," Byrd told ESPN.com. "The lines of communication are still open. I've talked to [CEO] Russ [Brandon] and [general manager] Doug [Whaley] a couple days ago. We're talking.

"So it's not anything that's hard feelings or anything like that. The conversations that we've had, we know what's going on. We're all on the same page. We'll go from here."

The Associated Press reported Sunday, citing a person familiar with the negotiations, that talks had reached a "standstill" after the Bills made an offer that would have paid Byrd $30 million over the next three seasons.

"I don't want to get into details, but I will say any time you have something where it's a source, an unnamed source, and the full details of the situation aren't revealed, you can't really believe everything you hear," Byrd said. "I've had one-on-one conversations, phone calls with Doug and Russ. ... And the thing is, from outside, a lot of people don't understand that. The fans, they feel a certain kind of way because they don't understand the whole depths of everything, which is understandable."

Byrd dispelled any perception that he is not willing to return to Buffalo, one season after he sat out all of training camp before signing his franchise tender.

"That's the furthest thing from the truth," Byrd said. "Like I said, I was drafted there. They gave me my opportunity, out of all the other teams, and I'm thankful for Russ and [owner Ralph] Wilson and those guys giving me an opportunity to play in the NFL. This is a privilege and not a right. I'm thankful for that. That's the furthest thing from the truth. They hold a special part to me, starting my career there, and like I said, anything can happen."

Asked if he wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, Byrd deferred comment to his agent, Eugene Parker.

Byrd can begin negotiating with other teams Saturday and can finalize a new deal next Tuesday.

"This is new to me," Byrd said. "I've never experienced this. I'll just kind of take it in stride and see what happens. You could say this is what I've been waiting for, but in an ideal situation, you want to finish up something that you start. Unfortunately, that wasn't able to happen, so now we're here. Just looking for the next step."

The Bills had until Monday to assign Byrd the franchise tag, which would have paid him a guaranteed one-year salary of $8.4 million. Byrd declined to say how he would have reacted to being tagged, instead recounting his experience with the franchise tag last offseason.

"I was just honestly a little disappointed with not being able to be with the organization long term. When you get drafted somewhere and you invest a lot of time in something, you want to see it through," Byrd said. "That was part of the disappointment of not being able to see it through."

After reporting to the Bills following their second preseason game, Byrd did not play until Week 6 because of foot soreness.

"It was a lot of ups and downs with everything coming into the season," he said. "There was a lot of emotions, I guess you could say, before the season started. Once I got playing, football is kind of that mainstay. Once I got out on the field, a lot of the stuff just went away. But before that, yeah, there were a lot of emotions involved. Fans, me, organization, just everybody."

Byrd said he maintains a good relationship with Bills coach Doug Marrone.

"Coach Marrone is a really good coach," he said. "I believe he has the team headed in the right direction. He has a vision of what he wants, and I believe he's going to achieve it."