The Saints will release safety Jairus Byrd on the first day of the league year, March 9, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). If it doesn’t designate Byrd as a post-June 1 cut, New Orleans will save $3.2MM in 2017 by moving on from Byrd, but it’ll also be on the hook for $8MM in dead money. Should the Saints use the June designation, though, it would free up $7.8MM in space for this year.
Byrd joined the Saints as a free agent in 2014, when he inked a six-year, $56MM deal featuring $28MM in guarantees. The gamble didn’t go according to plan for the Saints, as Byrd was unable to consistently flash the star-caliber ability he often showed in Buffalo from 2009-13. Byrd made three Pro Bowls and intercepted a whopping 22 passes in 73 games during his five-year stretch with the Bills. However, he totaled just three picks in three years in New Orleans, where he appeared in 33 games and made 32 starts.
To his credit, the 30-year-old Byrd is coming off his first 16-start season since 2012. He picked up 82 tackles and two interceptions in the process, and his performance ranked a middle-of-the-pack 46th among Pro Football Focus‘ 89 qualified safeties. He’ll now head back to the open market as one of the most established safeties available in a class of free agents that could also include the likes of Tony Jefferson, Duron Harmon and Barry Church, among others.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.