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July 28, 2013

Bills set to open training camp minus Byrd

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PITTSFORD — The Buffalo Bills are preparing to open training camp minus Jairus Byrd. And with contract talks at a stalemate, the team has no indication when the two-time Pro Bowl safety plans to report.

“Hopefully soon,” general manager Doug Whaley said Saturday, a day before the Bills were set to hold their first practice in suburban Rochester. Whaley acknowledged that’s essentially a guess because Byrd and his agent, Eugene Parker, haven’t informed the Bills of their intentions.

“They haven’t said anything,” Whaley said.

Talks remain at a standstill, leaving Byrd a member of Buffalo’s roster in name only.

The Bills prevented Byrd from testing free agency by retaining his rights in March. That’s when they designated him their franchise player by offering him a one-year, $6.9 million contract.

Very little has happened since.

Byrd has yet to sign the one-year contract, and the two sides failed to negotiate a long-term contract extension by a July 15 deadline. Under NFL rules, the Bills are now limited to reaching a one-year deal with Byrd.

He missed all of the team’s spring minicamps and is not required to attend training camp because he’s unsigned.

Parker declined to comment on the status of negotiations or Byrd’s plans in an email to The Associated Press.

Whaley said “the lines of communication are open,” but declined to say when the two sides last spoke. He added that he respects Byrd as a player and the position he’s taken in refusing to accept the offer.

“I think it’s a normal negotiation process. We’ve worked hard. They’ve worked hard. And it’s just part of the business,” Whaley said. “Hopefully, he comes in. And when he does, we’ll welcome him with open arms.”

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