UPDATE: Matt Rich Warren of Buffalo Rumblings commented to let us know that the Bills are reportedly likely to keep Byrd, either through a franchise tag or new contract. Here's a breakdown of what the franchise tag would cost Buffalo.
The first rumors of Atlanta's interest in a free agent safety have cropped up, and it's one of the first 2014 NFL free agency rumors for the Falcons, period.
buffal S jairus byrd looks like falcons' big target in free agency— Pick the Draft (@pickthedraft) January 28, 2014
Now, as is the case with all offseason rumors, I would urge you to take this with a grain of salt until you see multiple sources rolling with this. Pick the Draft is a Twitter and site run by Len Pasquarelli, a former ESPN NFL reporter who lives in Atlanta, and Clark Judge, formerly of CBS Sports. It's fair to wonder where that information is coming from, but considering we're talking about Jimmy Graham based on nothing concrete, it's also fair to weigh this rumor.
That said, Thomas DeCoud's release and the signing of a veteran free agent safety have seemed like logical outcomes this offseason, so this is a rumor worth monitoring. Byrd, 27, played in 11 games last year, putting up 48 tackles and four interceptions for the Buffalo Bills after rehabbing from an injury. He doesn't have a lengthy injury history and is a hell of a safety, but he's going to want a lot of money and the way he's clashed with the team in the past is a concern. If the Falcons have to shell out $8 or $9 million a year to get him on the team, many will balk, and that's an understandable reaction.
If the Falcons decide to move on from DeCoud, it makes sense to invest in a safety who would be an immediate upgrade. Developing Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta would be excellent, but you don't keep DeCoud around because you hope two seventh round safeties are going to become better-than-average starters. Most of the time, those bets don't pan out.
Buffalo is reportedly interested in re-signing Byrd and there should be a robust market for his services, so don't go penciling him onto the Falcons roster. Just keep an eye out for more of these kinds of rumors.
Your thoughts regarding Byrd?