There is bad news down in New Orleans. Saints safety Jairus Byrd has torn his lateral meniscus and will miss the rest of the 2014 NFL season. It's a big loss for an already-struggling New Orleans defense that is allowing 27.5 points per game, which is the fifth highest average in the league.
The Byrd contract seemed like a bad idea for the Saints from the beginning. Byrd, soon to be 28, signed a massive six-year, $54 million deal with New Orleans in the 2014 offseason. The deal contains $26.3 million guaranteed, including an $11 million signing bonus. It was known that Byrd was talented but there were serious concerns about his health at the time.
Some Eagles fans were upset when Philadelphia opted to sign former Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who New Orleans didn't try to re-sign, instead of Byrd. Those same fans probably owe the team an apology. Jenkins has been an amazing offseason addition for the Birds. Jenkins' three interceptions through four games tie for a league-high. His overall play has been very strong all around. Jenkins even contributes on special teams.
One of the biggest criticisms of Jenkins at the time of his signing were his bad Pro Football Focus grades. Those criticisms look especially silly now because Jenkins is the third overall graded safety on PFF. Byrd, by the way, ranks near the bottom of the list at 65th out of 77 eligible safeties. Not to mention that the Eagles signed Jenkins to a three-year, $15.5 million contract. The deal contains $8.5 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus. The Saints spent over three times the amount of guaranteed money on Byrd that the Eagles did with Jenkins.
It seemed that the Saints were signing for the fences were the signing of Byrd. New Orleans was aiming to load up on talent for one last run with quarterback Drew Brees. Part of that aggressive decision-making caused the Saints to trade running back Darren Sproles away to Philadelphia in order to clear his cap space off the books. Sproles, like Jenkins, has been a crucial addition to the Eagles.
Philadelphia took advantage of the Saints' desperation and the Eagles are now reaping the benefits of New Orleans' mistakes. It's easy to wonder if the Saints (1-3) regret their course of action during the offseason.