Not a season passes that a bevy of talented players become fodder for trade, and most often because their current team refuses to pay the price to keep them. It is a natural consequence of the era of free agency, where inflated salaries (and egos) see key cogs fly the coup for "greener" pastures.
And many players allow the big bucks to interfere with their play, making their new deal look like a mistake. But teams will continue to covet the most accomplished on the trading block, or wait for them to walk away seeking those big deals.
Jairus Byrd is one of those players. But after five years in the league, rumors have been swirling for months that he and the Buffalo Bills will be parting ways following the end of another bad year. After a ridiculous rookie campaign with nine interceptions, the safety cooled considerably in year two, only making one grab for a TD, and then following with years of three, five, and four respectively.
Now that he has settled in, Byrd may just want to play for a contender, and who can blame him? The desire for a championship is the reason these guys play the game. He has the talent to succeed in any system, and there are much better places for his talents.
1. New England Patriots
I had to start with the home team. The Patriots have struggled to keep two healthy safeties on the field, and big plays have been their Achilles heel. In addition to his ball-hawking skills, Byrd is a very good tackler, making him valuable in all sets... exactly what Bill Belichick values in his players (a la Devin McCourty). If they will loosen the strings a bit, Byrd will be a great fit.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Here is a team that still needs to find a replacement for all-world safety Ed Reed. I don't see how they could pass on the chance to insert an experienced and talented guy like Byrd into their secondary. The biggest question would be how to afford him with so many big salaries already on the books.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
After missing the playoffs in 2013, what doesn't this team need? They need to continue their replenishment of the old guard, and Byrd is still young enough to be one of those guys. Troy Polamalu isn't getting any younger, and Byrd could be the catalyst to get them into postseason contention. They would have two beasts in the secondary who can roam and hit at will.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Yes, this team is a contender, even though they bombed big time in 2013. Even though tight end (and maybe QB) is a bigger need this year, a safety who can challenge receivers is a must-have if the Falcons have any hope of averting another melt-down come next season. Jairus Byrd could be the leader in this secondary.
5. Houston Texans
Okay- Houston needs to draft a quarterback... early; but what better splash to make in the offseason than a big name in free agency? This team needs miracles all over the field, and taking advantage of the skill level that Byrd possesses would be a giant step. They already have the best defensive lineman in football, as well as, a promising younster at safety in D.J. Swearinger. The Texans just might be the best fit of all, and a good choice if they can solve their mysterious problems.
While Byrd could fit well into any of these schemes, his first priority will probably be big money. I don't want to presume any kind of greed, only that he is good enough to expect a decent payday. I think he will get his wish, and only hope that he picks a team that also gives him the best chance at that title shot.