New Orleans inks safety Byrd to 6-year deal

by Walter Pierce

The 5-foot-10, 203-pound former second-round pick has gone to three Pro Bowls in his five seasons.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The New Orleans Saints agreed to a six-year contract with safety Jairus Byrd on Tuesday, shoring up a depleted defensive backfield that lost a safety to free agency and recently released another one.

Byrd's contract was announced at the end of the first day of NFL free agency. It gives the Saints another hard-hitting safety to pair with Kenny Vaccaro.

The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Byrd, a former second-round pick by Buffalo, has gone to three Pro Bowls in his five seasons. He has 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and three sacks since entering the NFL in 2009 out of Oregon.

"We had hoped for the opportunity to pursue Jairus Byrd," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the club. "After meeting with him, we are excited that he will become a member of the New Orleans Saints. We think that his playmaking abilities will be an excellent fit with what we are trying to accomplish with our defense and in our secondary."

New Orleans lost free agent Malcolm Jenkins to Philadelphia earlier Tuesday and released safety Roman Harper in February. Vaccaro was the only safety remaining on the Saints' roster.

The 27-year-old Byrd played in 11 games last season with Buffalo, and finished with 48 tackles, four interceptions and a sack. He missed the first five games of the season with a foot injury.

"We played against the Saints this year and I saw their style of play and was impressed by it," Byrd said in a statement. "I think I will fit well in the scheme. This is a great opportunity to join a championship organization. I look forward to meeting my new teammates and being part of a great Saints defense."