The Saints tweeted on Tuesday night that they signed free agent safety Jairus Byrd (5'10, 203lbs) to a 6-year deal. Byrd was a second round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2009 out of Oregon. The 27-year old is a 3-time Pro-Bowler (2009, 2012, 2013) and a 3-time All-Pro (2009, 2012, 2013). Click here to view his stats.
In his five years in the league, he's racked up 256 tackles, 33 pass deflections, and 22 interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns. As a rookie, Byrd tied for the league-lead in interceptions with 9. He has 90 tackles and nine interceptions alone in the last two seasons.
According to ESPN, Byrd is looking for $9 million a year, which would make him the second-highest paid safety in the league after Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs. Byrd played under the franchise tag last season after being unable to reach a long term deal with the Bills, who decided not to tag him again this year.
Saints are giving former Bills S Jairus Byrd a six-year, $54 million contract, including $28 million guaranteed, per source.
According to Adam, it's 6 years at exactly $9 million a year.It is common knowledge that the Saints currently have little cap room. However, Byrd is a star player, and the Saints are making this work, pairing one of the top safeties in the league (Byrd) with one of the top young safeties in the league (Kenny Vacarro).
General Manager Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office could be gold medalists when it comes to the salary cap gymnastics they do.
As of Tuesday, the Saints are about $2 million under the NFL cap of approximately $132 million. But just three moves could help the Black and Gold clear a good bit of money.
If Pierre Thomas is cut, it would save the Saints $2.9 million. If Darren Sproles is cut (or traded), it would save the Saints about $3.5 million. Both of those players have been rumored in recent days to be on the trading block or possibly on the way out. Just one more player could help the Saints saved some cap space.
Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley will count about $6.1 million against the cap this season, but cutting him would save just $1.275 million. However, if the Saints designate Brodrick Bunkley as a June 1st cut, it would save about $4.5 million this year (though, Bunkley would still count about $3.2 million against the cap in 2015).
Altogether, that would give the Saints an extra approximately $10.9 million – added to the $1.9 million in current space, bringing the total to between $12-13 million -- to work with, which would be enough to sign Byrd if he wanted to don the Black and Gold. Another thing to consider is that if Byrd did sign with the Saints, his cap hit for the first year would almost definitely be under $9 million due to the set up of the contract. And if Jimmy Graham inks a long-term deal, his cap hit would most likely drop from the $7.035 million it is now.
And this is not even considering contracts the Saints may want to renegotiate to clear up cap space. In other words, rest assured, Who Dats, the signing of Jairus Byrd won't bankrupt the Saints. He's a stud safety, and NFL's #2 pass defense now has one of the best safety tandems in the league.