Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Bills selected Byrd in the second round of the 2009 draft out of Oregon. He enjoyed a breakout season as a rookie, when he earned a Pro Bowl selection after finishing tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions — a rookie franchise record. Byrd also set a team record that season by having an interception in five consecutive games.
Last season, Byrd was the team’s most consistent defender and was added to the Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement. Byrd led Buffalo with five interceptions and four forced fumbles, and finished fourth with 76 tackles. Overall, his 18 career interceptions are tied for third most among NFL players since 2009.
His absence leaves a hole in the Bills defensive plans under new coordinator Mike Pettine.
“That remains to be seen,” Whaley said, referring to how much the defense might miss Byrd. “I think there’s a lot of guys on the roster now that are going to step up to fill that role until he gets back. And then we’ll go from there when he gets in. So it’s hard for me to predict that.”
Converted cornerback Aaron Williams spent much of the spring filling Byrd’s starting spot at free safety.
Byrd is also behind in learning Pettine’s new defense, which emphasizes player versatility and a complex approach in pressuring quarterbacks from various positions. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore said he and several teammates have been in contact with Byrd and provided him details of the defense.
Byrd will still have some catching up to do should he elect to report.
Byrd has not commented publicly on his contract status this offseason, and has been careful not to divulge too much in notes posted on his Twitter account.
On Monday, Byrd posted a note saying: “It’ll be worth it in the end.”