Jairus Byrd is the first big winner of NFL free agency after the All-Pro safety signed a six-year deal with the New Orleans Saints worth a reported $56 million.
The Saints seemed unlikely candidates to land Byrd, especially given the team’s tight salary cap position, but still managed to sign one of the biggest free agents before other teams had a shot at him. NFL free agency was only about five hours old when the team announced that it had reached a deal with Byrd.
The former Buffalo Bills star had played last season under the franchise tag, but as the year progressed seemed increasingly likely to hit NFL free agency.
Jairus Byrd had given indications that he no longer wanted to the part of the Buffalo Bills even before free agency began. He was upset with being given the franchise tag, and after holding out through training camp he missed the early portion of the season with plantar faciitis.
The team entered negotiations with Jairus Byrd before NFL free agency began, reportedly offering a deal that would have paid him $10 million for each of the first three years of his contract, but Byrd rebuffed the offer and the talks then broke down.
The Bills had the option using franchise tag for a second time, giving Byrd $8.4 million for next season, but opted instead to let him test NFL free agency.A second round pick in 2009, Jairus Byrd has 22 interceptions for his career. Last season he made the Pro Bowl despite missing a large chunk of the season.
Jairus Byrd will likely be the biggest move for New Orleans in NFL free agency, leading many to believe that the team will part ways with some big-salary players like running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. In New Orleans he will join safety Kenny Vaccaro, a 2013 first-round pick, to create what many believe will be the best safety pairing in the league.