Saints Sign Jairus Byrd
New Orleans landed arguably the top free agent in this year’s class, signing FS Jairus Byrd to six-year, $54 million contract with $28 million in guaranteed money.
This move comes as a surprise, but it makes sense. The Saints entered free agency as one of the league’s most cash-strapped, but they found the money to pony up to Byrd. This move fills a void at safety after New Orleans cut veteran Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins bolted for Philadelphia.
Byrd joins second-year man Kenny Vaccaro, giving the Saints a safety corps to rival the likes of Seattle’s impressive tandem.
One of the league’s best sideline-to-sideline centerfielders, Byrd has racked up 22 interceptions and 33 passes defensed in 73 games played over his five-year career. Early on, he looked as though he might be one of the league’s elite fantasy options, posting 89 total tackles in 2010 and 98 total tackles in 2011, but those numbers have dipped in the past two seasons.
His new surroundings don’t bode positively for an increase in Byrd’s tackle production. In fact, we may actually see a slight decline in his numbers as he moves from one of the league’s most tackle-happy stat crews to a much more stingy bunch in New Orleans.
Still, Byrd is one of the league’s best ball hawks. His big play ability warrants DB3 consideration, though you may have to weather some down weeks. Byrd was the No. 34 defensive back in PFF IDP scoring in his 11 games played last season, and it’s reasonable to expect him to finish at or near the same range this season.
Byrd’s presence will allow Vaccaro to see lots of time in the box, giving him a high tackle floor. Vaccaro slots in as a low-end DB1 in our initial IDP rankings.
We’re also likely to see Da’Norris Searcy in a full-time role now, provided the Bills do not add another starting caliber safety into the mix. Aaron Williams will likely move into Byrd’s spot, with Searcy getting the more tackle-lucrative position in the Bills secondary. Both have the potential to have fantasy value in 2014, though Searcy gets the early edge.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out our new Mock and Companion Draft Tool! Utilizing our updated player projections, run a quick mock draft and see where this year’s crop of free agents are coming off the board in early fantasy football drafts.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of PFF Fantasy.