The New Orleans Saints announced Tuesday that they have signed unrestricted free agent free safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year contract. The announcement was made by Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
"We had hoped for the opportunity to pursue Jairus Byrd," said Loomis. "After meeting with him, we are excited that he will become a member of the New Orleans Saints. We think that his play-making abilities will be an excellent fit with what we are trying to accomplish with our defense and in our secondary."
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A second-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills (42nd overall) out of Oregon in 2009, Byrd became a starter at free safety as a rookie in week four and made an immediate impact, as he was named as a consensus All-Rookie selection, tying for the NFL lead with a club rookie-record nine interceptions. He was the fourth Buffalo rookie selected to the Pro Bowl.
In that standout rookie campaign, Byrd became the first player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to recorded three consecutive multi-interception games. The San Diego native has been selected to a total of three Pro Bowls and has appeared in 73 games with 66 starts overall. Byrd has posted career totals of 352 tackles (256 solo), three sacks, 22 interceptions, 33 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. His interception total since 2009 is ranked second in the NFL.
"I first want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization and the great fans of Buffalo for their support during my time there. I think there are great things to come here in New Orleans and I'm excited to join this team," said Byrd. "We played against the Saints this year and I saw their style of play and was impressed by it. 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."
In 2013, Byrd appeared in 11 games with nine starts and finished the season with 48 tackles (37 solo), one sack, four interceptions (which tied for the team lead and ranked fourth in the AFC), six passes defensed and one forced fumble. He shook off a foot injury that sidelined him for the season's first five games to be to be selected to his third Pro Bowl and was named an *AP *second-team All-Pro.
Byrd anchored the secondary of a defensive unit that was ranked 10th in the NFL in total defense and fourth against the pass, allowing only 204.4 passing yards per game. The Bills also were tied for fifth in the league with 6.5 passing yards per an attempt. Opposing quarterbacks finished the season with a 74.9 passer rating, which ranked third-lowest in the league.