The New Orleans Saints are in salary cap hell. They are still financially hurting from Drew Brees’ contract and Jimmy Graham’s impending contract. Don’t expect any huge moves as they have no wiggle room with their dollars.
Yeah, so much for that.
The Saints made the biggest free agent splash, signing former Buffalo All Pro safety Jairus Byrd. Byrd was given big money as he inked himself a 6-year, $54 million deal with approximately $28 million guaranteed.
Where did this money come from? No one exactly knows, but general manager Mickey Loomis pulled a nice magic trick and found the money to get the Saints a top tier talent. Though this move came out of nowhere, anyone who has followed the Saints’ recent offseason shouldn’t find this too surprising.
Last offseason, when the Saints were in similar dire straits financially, they managed to snag free agents Keenan Lewis and Victor Butler at very good values. And the offseason before that, when the Saints had to sign Brees to his record breaking contract, they still managed to scrape enough money together to sign linebacker Curtis Lofton.
The Byrd signing is just another instance of Loomis and the front office being crafty with their money. More so than that, it shows that they are not afraid of being aggressive and know they must keep upgrading to allow themselves to be perennial championship contenders.
Now what does Byrd provide from a football standpoint? First off, it fills the void at safety that was left with the departure of Malcolm Jenkins to Philadelphia and Roman Harper to free agency. Secondly, Byrd paired with Kenny Vaccaro instantly provides the Saints with one of the best safety tandems in the league (save Seattle obviously).
Even though the Saints’ defense last season was much improved, they severely lacked in the turnover department. Byrd should remedy that situation. His 22 career interceptions since entering the league is one of the highest totals by anyone in that time span.
His ball hawking skills and ability to play center field so effectively will allow Rob Ryan to get even more diverse with his looks. Also, it will allow Ryan to continue his three safety look that he liked last year as Byrd can play alongside Vaccaro and young, up and coming safety Rafael Bush.
The addition of Byrd is certainly exciting, as he was ranked as the top free agent regardless of position by NFL.com. His contributions will certainly take the Saints’ defense, which was already ranked in the top 5, to the next level. Who knows what Loomis has planned next; it is only Day 2 of the free agent season.