Jairus Byrd is out for the rest of the season after the New Orleans Saints safety injured his knee during practice.
Byrd was injured while going through a non-contact drill during practice. Saints coach Sean Payton announced Friday afternoon that Byrd was headed to season-ending IR.
jairus byrd has been placed on season-ending IR, Payton announced #Saints
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 3, 2014
Byrd was one of the biggest free-agent pickups of the last year. The safety turned down what was reportedly a “substantial offer” to remain with the Buffalo Bills, instead signing a 6-year, $56 million deal with the Saints.
Jairus Byrd’s injury will now be quite costly to the New Orleans Saints. The team shed quite a bit of payroll in order to sign Byrd, letting key players like running back Darren Sproles get away.
Some of those roster moves have already come back to hurt the Saints, even before Byrd’s injury. Sproles has emerged as a key player for the Philadelphia Eagles, currently No. 7 in the league for all-purpose yardage. When Saints starter Mark Ingram went down with injury, the Saints were instead forced to turn to veteran Pierre Thomas.
Safety was not even seen as a position of need for the Saints, who had strong play at the position and had more dire needs at cornerback. But Byrd was expected to team with 2013 first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro to create a playmaking tandem at safety.
“I think he has unique ball skills,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said during training camp, via NewOrleansSaints.com “If that ball hits his hands he is going to catch it. But also with that, he is very smart. He can put himself in the plays. He has just been great all through his career. I think that one thing with (forcing and recovering) turnovers in the National Football League, (is that) these are the best quarterbacks in the world. You have to play your technique. You have to be disciplined, but there comes to a time and point where every turnover is made where a guy has to just go make it.”
Jairus Byrd had been dealing with other injury problems in recent years. He missed several games for the Bills last season with plantar fasciitis. This offseason he also underwent back surgery.