As a boy, Jairus Byrd was always curious about big things. His mother, Marilyn, will never forget the day he asked about the size of the family swimming pool.

She provided the pertinent details.

“Well,” little Jairus replied, “mine is going to be 10 times as big!”

Sometime soon, Byrd will be able to afford the biggest pool he can find. He can buy the company if he likes. The Bills’ free safety has completed his rookie contract, and he is in line for a big raise that will make him among the highest-paid players at his position, and a very wealthy young man.

The question is whether that rich new deal will come from the Bills, who picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft. The Bills have slapped a one-year, $6.9 million, non-exclusive franchise tag on Byrd.

Byrd has not signed it. He wants a long-term deal commensurate with the top-paid safeties in the NFL. Under the non-exclusive tag, he can entertain offers from other teams. In that unlikely event, the Bills have the right to match or let him go and take two first-round picks as compensation.

So Byrd sits and waits. He was the only veteran who skipped the recent “voluntary” minicamp.

Before the draft, General Manager Buddy Nix said he hadn’t given Byrd much thought, though he wanted to sign him to a long-term deal and expects him in training camp. But Nix also said “the ball’s in his court.”

Byrd’s agent is Eugene Parker, whose unbending demands got Jason Peters traded from Buffalo four years ago. You can bet Parker wants Byrd to get top market value and will urge him to stand his ground – even if it means holding out of training camp or, in the worst case, sitting out the start of the season.

The Bills shouldn’t let it come to that. I’m not privy to negotiations, but it would be imprudent to play hardball with Byrd and risk alienating one of the top players and good guys on the team. It’s only May, but drafting safeties in consecutive rounds was a troubling sign that this could get ugly.