CLEVELAND – With the hiring of former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns and safety T.J. Ward set to hit free agency, could Buffalo’s Jarius Byrd be an option?
Ward, a hard-hitting safety out of Oregon, is one of two notable unrestricted Cleveland free agents set to hit the free agent market along with center Alex Mack, may have a need for a replacement if Cleveland fails to keep the Pro Bowler.
Drafted 38th overall in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Ward has a reputation for hard hits and being good in run support. With Cleveland having the third-most projected salary cap space of $36 million, the Browns have a tough decision to make on whether to sign him long-term or let him walk.
If Cleveland fails to re-sign Ward, could they make a run at one of their new head coaches former players in Byrd?
Byrd—also out of Oregon, had 48 total tackles, one forced fumble and four interceptions in 16 games for the Bills, per Spotrac.com, was franchised by the Bills for one year and $6.9 million, could be a good fit based on his familiarity with Pettine and former Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator, Jim O’Neil, who was Buffalo’s outside linebackers coach.
Tenth among defensive backs in interceptions, Byrd in Cleveland would be a free-agency win for the Browns, and if Ward decides to possibly stay and Byrd come to Cleveland, the Browns would have one of the best safety tandems in the NFL.
Obviously, a lot can happen between now and March 8, the day that free agency officially begins, but due the possible loss of Ward, don’t be surprised if Byrd becomes the latest Bill to shuffle down to the North Coast and don the brown and orange.