By Chris Burke
July 09, 2013

There has been little progress in contract talks between Jarius Byrd and the Bills. There has been little progress in contract talks between Jairus Byrd and the Bills. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….

• The Buffalo Bills have less than a week to get Jairus Byrd locked up long-term, and it is looking less and less likely that will happen. The Bills used the franchise tag on Byrd this offseason, leaving them until July 15 to sign Byrd beyond 2013. (Denver tackle Ryan Clady also has yet to sign, with that same deadline looming.)

However, the Buffalo News reports that "no contract talks have been scheduled" for Byrd, and "there’s no understanding between the sides that they’ll talk any time soon."

What that means, in all likelihood, is that Byrd will have to play out 2013 on his one-year, franchise-tag deal and then could become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. It also may mean that Byrd opts to hold out for an extended period. Players often are not thrilled with the risk of playing under the single-season franchise tag, and Byrd is no exception.

Even if he does sign the tag tender, which would pay him around $7 million in 2013, NFL rules require him to play only six games to accumulate another year toward free agency. You might recall Vincent Jackson holding out through the Chargers' first seven games (then serving a three-game team suspension) in 2010, when he was forced to sign a restricted free-agent tender.

Should the Bills choose to stand their ground on a potential long-term contract for Byrd, they'll be crossing their fingers that he shows for the start of the regular season, even if he sits out training camp. Byrd had five interceptions last season and is an absolute linchpin of the Buffalo defense from the safety position. Having to play without him for several weeks might stunt any forward momentum the Bills have generated this offseason.

• San Diego is hoping that new head coach Mike McCoy, formerly the offensive coordinator in Denver, can be the spark for a recently dormant franchise. But the data, according to Chase Stuart of, does not show a whole bunch of recent success for OCs making the jump to the head-coaching ranks.

Stuart finds that -- rather surprisingly -- teams that promote offensive coordinators to head coach often show no tangible improvement on offense. San Diego needs McCoy to buck that trend and get Philip Rivers back on track.

• One of these days, three-time Pro Bowl fullback and current free agent Vonta Leach will sign with a team. It just won't be today. And probably not tomorrow.

Leach continues to play the waiting game with the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Herald reports the Dolphins "are interested in him on a low-money deal" and Leach wants to see if another team will pony up more dough. Leach's former team, Baltimore, has a "standing offer" on the table, per Armando Salguero, but not enough to entice Leach to stay.

• Rookies do not often find their way into the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting lineup. The Steelers' coaching staff would love it, though, if first-round pick Jarvis Jones bucked that trend in 2013.

Though Jones slipped on draft day, mainly due to concerns over a lingering neck injury, the Steelers feel as if they landed a perfect fit for their aggressive 3-4 defense. Jones told that his experience in a 3-4 in college has him more than prepared for the NFL leap.

"Georgia's 3-4 system under Coach [Todd] Grantham was very helpful for me and my pro career at Pittsburgh," Jones said. "There may be more to do here and it may be more complex, but what I learned at Georgia has given me an advantage with the Steelers. To begin with, I am playing for a first-class organization. They expect to compete for the Super Bowl every year. The Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any NFL team, and they expect to win more."

• Finally, the story that has dominated this offseason recently: Aaron Hernandez's fall from grace in New England. With Hernandez behind bars awaiting trial on multiple charges, including murder, Patriots owner Robert Kraft admitted that the team knew Hernandez had maturity issues but was stunned by recent events, according to The Boston Globe.

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