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Jairus Byrd likely to test free agency, should Raiders be interested?

Rick Stewart

With nine interceptions over the past two seasons, Jairus Byrd has established himself as the best safety in the NFL. Having obtained $25 million in cap space, it was widely assumed that the Bills would resign Byrd. But recent events indicate that he might hit the open market on March 11. If that happens, the Raiders could be interested.

The Franchise Tag deadline passed on March 3rd with only four players receiving the tag -- Byrd was not one of them. The Pro Bowl safety received the one year binding last year but did not share the same fate last Monday. This is somewhat surprising considering he has posted incredible numbers over the past two seasons.

Last year according to Pro Football Focus, Byrd was targeted only 22 times out of the 359 pass plays he was in for. Of those 22 targets, Byrd only gave up 11 receptions for a total of 83 yards (best in the NFL). Yes, a meager 83 yards in a 16 game NFL season! While only giving up one touchdown, Byrd intercepted Quarterbacks four times. In 2012, his numbers were just as impressive. Byrd was targeted 22 times in 569 passing snaps. He only allowed 16 receptions for 156 yards, zero touchdowns and five interceptions.

Byrd has simply been the best defensive back in the NFL over the past two years. In 27 games, he only allowed 27 receptions for 239 yards. This means that he only he gave up an average of 1 reception for 8.85 yards per game. He also allowed only one touchdown in those 27 games which is unheard of. Along with those incredible numbers, Byrd racked up nine interceptions.

Jairus Byrd - Chronicles (via NFLchronicles)

Instead of resigning Byrd, the Bills just signed Aaron Williams to a contract.

Williams is capable of starting as Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 28th best safety in the NFL. With the signing of Williams, it is extremely unlikely that the Bills are going to resign Jairus Byrd.

The Raiders currently have $66 million to spend. While resigning Jared Veldheer is priority number one, the Raiders would still have an enormous amount left to splurge in free agency. With the two elite pass rushers signed (Greg Hardy and Brian Orakpo), Jairus Byrd is the best player available.

The Raider's secondary currently has young talent in Tyvon Branch and D.J. Hayden. Tracy Porter and Charles Woodson also played well last year. But with Woodson, Porter and Mike Jenkins set to hit free agency, the Raiders could potentially lose three starters in their secondary.

In an interview with Sirus XM radio, Woodson said he would retire if he is not offered enough money:

"If the right numbers don't come across for myself and from the team standpoint, it's a serious consideration, at this point, that I could've played my last season in the NFL."

If this is the Raiders and Woodson can't come to terms, Jairus Byrd would be a more than ideal alternative. While Woodson played well last season, he is past his prime at 37 years old. Byrd would provide a much larger impact locking down the middle of the field.

The Raiders would also be wise to re-sign Porter. If they did it would leave their secondary looking like this:

CB: D.J. Hayden FS: Jairus Byrd SS: Tyvon Branch CB: Tracy Porter

Playing in the AFC West against Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Philip Rivers; the Raiders need a reliable secondary that is capable of changing games. This secondary I just listed has the potential to be the best in the NFL; especially with Byrd commanding the middle of the field.

The Bills signing of Aaron Williams indicates that Buffalo might let Jairus Byrd test his value in free agency. If Byrd does become a Free Agent, the Raiders should highly consider him because he would greatly impact their secondary. On March 11th, the Raiders could very possibility have the opportunity to sign the best safety in the NFL.

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