Updating our previous story on former Bills Safety Jairus Byrd, the New Orleans Saints have agreed to a six year $54 million contract with the free agent after meeting with him on Tuesday. Snaring the market's top safety in remarkable fashion, the Saints will pay Byrd $28 million in guaranteed money.
Given the team's well documented salary cap constraints, Saints GM Mickey Loomis has pulled a rabbit out of his hat to get this deal done, and the team now boasts one of, if not the premier Safety tandem in the league as Byrd will partner Kenny Vaccaro in Rob Ryan's defense. The Saints' first round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, Vaccaro had an impressive rookie year in New Orleans and should thrive playing alongside Byrd, who developed into one of the league's best safeties during his five years in Bufffalo. The Saints are off to a great start in free agency
With Malcolm Jenkins agreeing to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles and Roman Harper a salary cap casualty last month, the Saints had a pressing need for a Safety. They aimed high and hit their target right in the bullseye. The team remains hopeful of retaining restricted free agent safety Rafael Bush, who they tendered last week. This trio would give Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan flexibility and options as he tends to employ aggressive defenses which sometimes consist of three Safeties on the field at once.
With the futures of Jimmy Graham and a handful of key contributors from last season's team still hanging in the balance, the Saints still have plenty of diligence ahead of them. But they could not have gotten off to a better start. While many tricky negotiations await, the signing of Jairus Byrd has set off plenty of positive vibes amongst Saints fans. A defense which improved leaps and bounds in just one year under Rob Ryan now has an even higher ceiling.
Byrd would surely have seen no shortage of suitors on the market, with several teams including Buffalo believed to be interested in his services. The fact that he decided on New Orleans without taking any other visits speaks volumes to where the Saints are and where they can still go. Byrd is a huge get for Loomis, Sean Payton and the organization as a whole, and an already optimistic fanbase now has further reason to feel confident heading into the 2014 season.