The New Orleans Saints‘ prized offseason signing, safety Jairus Byrd, made his triumphant return to the field today following back surgery earlier this offseason. For a secondary that was in need of another big playmaker to anchor Rob Ryan‘s defense, the health of Byrd is integral for the success of the unit as a whole.
Byrd’s return is met with a large sigh of relief on behalf of the Saints’ fanbase as well as their front office. After signing the star safety to a massive six-year, $54 million contract, the Saints cannot afford him to be unhealthy. The combination of a healthy Byrd with second-year player Kenny Vaccaro in the secondary could provide the Saints with arguably one of the best safety combinations in the entire league.
The signing of Byrd in the offseason caught many by surprise, as the Saints are not known for going out and signing the high-priced free agents. However, in doing so, the Saints were then given flexibility when it came to the NFL Draft. A trade up three ended up yielding explosive playmaker Brandin Cooks who will look to replace Darren Sproles.
For the Saints in 2014, Byrd will be a key part of determining their defense’s success or failure. And although he has been activated from the PUP list, expect to see New Orleans ease him slowly back into the grind of every day football. After all, they do have 54 million reasons to ensure his health.