30-Year-Old Safety – Free Agent
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
After signing a six-year, $54 million contract with the Saints in 2014, Byrd has suffered through two underwhelming and injury-plagued seasons in New Orleans. Last year, much of Byrd's training camp w...
Jairus Byrd Contract Information:
Released by the Saints in March of 2017.
Byrd will be released by the Saints at the start of free agency, NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reports.
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Jairus Byrd: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Byrd signed a whopping six-year, $54 million contract ($28 million guaranteed) with the Saints last March, but missed most of the 2014 preseason after undergoing offseason back surgery. He returned to the field late in the preseason but appeared in only four regular-season games before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury. Even before his season ended prematurely, Byrd’s performance was a mixed bag. While he had yet to record an interception – despite picking off 22 total passes in his previous five years in Buffalo – he was on pace to make 88 tackles, a solid output for a free safety. At the time of publication, Byrd is expected to be completely healthy in time for training camp, and if he can recapture his pre-2014 form, he could be a bargain in IDP leagues.
The Bills were unable to convince Byrd to return to Buffalo after playing on the franchise tag in 2013, so he headed for New Orleans in the offseason. He'll start alongside Kenny Vaccaro this year, giving the Saints what might be the most formidable safety duo in the league. So long as he's able to move past the plantar fasciitis he dealt with in 2013, Byrd will be out to reestablish himself as one of the league's elite turnover threats at safety. He headed into last season with 17 interceptions in four years, returning two for touchdowns. It's probably unreasonable to expect enormous tackle production from Byrd – the Saints played fewer defensive snaps than any other team in the league last year and Byrd averaged just 87 tackles per season from 2010 through 2012 – but he should post adequate tackle numbers while providing top-notch interception potential. New Orleans' opponents will need to throw constantly to keep up with the Drew Brees-led offense, and Byrd might be the best in the league at baiting quarterbacks into making ill-advised throws.
Byrd doesn't post outrageous tackle numbers, but he might be the most well-rounded DB when it comes to producing in both the tackle and turnover categories, thanks to his career average of 4.5 interceptions and 2.5 forced fumbles per season. Byrd has always been a ball hawk – he even intercepted 17 passes as a cornerback in his three years at Oregon. None of this is to say Byrd is a turnover specialist with low tackle totals – Byrd had 98 tackles in 2011, and his career average of 77 per season makes him entirely sufficient in the category. Byrd missed mandatory minicamp due to a contract dispute, which could also threaten his training camp.
He’s no George Wilson, but Byrd is one of the best IDP targets among defensive backs entering 2012. A former college cornerback who initially made his mark in the NFL with low-tackle, high-interception totals, Byrd has rounded out his game in the last two years and become a steady source of tackle production, remaining a threat in coverage all the while. Byrd finished 2011 with 98 tackles (75 solo), one sack, three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles. Byrd strikes a good balance between his early-career interception totals and his recently improved tackle numbers, making him one of the more reliable defensive back targets on the board. His upside is pretty high given that the Bills' defensive line is so good and could be forcing a lot of errant passes.
While Byrd is generally a promising player, his production thus far in his career has been unusual. During his rookie year, he was a magnet when the football was in the air (nine interceptions in 14 games) but was allergic to the ball when someone was running with it (45 tackles). In 2010, Byrd's game inverted as he totaled 89 tackles (62 solo) with just one interception. If he could strike some balance he'd have the look of an elite safety, but until then he carries a bit of risk.
Byrd made the Pro Bowl in an impressive rookie season that ended with nine interceptions, tied for the league high. However, his season also ended early with a torn labrum. He's recovered well and should be close to 100 percent by the time the regular season rolls around. He's expected to start at free safety, where he should be able to continue his ball-hawking ways, which go back far beyond his fine rookie season, though his tackles will probably stay in check because stopping the run really isn't his main weapon right now, plus the Bills have a lot of depth at safety and will rotate frequently.
Byrd was one of the team's two second-round selections in 2009 and was considered one of the top underclassmen corners in the draft. However, he'll switch to safety with the Bills. Right now, Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott are the two starters at safety, though eventually the team expects Byrd to earn a starting role. Keep an eye on him if he does, because he has good ball-hawking skills. Byrd intercepted 17 passes, broke up 53 more, forced four fumbles and recovered two fumbles in three seasons with Oregon.