Already dealing with a rough 1-3 start, the New Orleans Saints got some terrible news as they found out that safety Jairus Byrd tore his lateral meniscus ligament and will miss the rest of the season.
The injury happened in Thursday’s practice as Byrd caught what reports describe as an acrobatic interception. He then got up and tried to run, but tore the meniscus in his knee. Byrd has been placed on injured reserve while high-paid backup Rafael Bush will take his place.
Big things were expected from the ex-Buffalo Bills player since he signed a 6-year, $54 million deal in the offseason – more money than any other free agent. $26.3 million of this money is guaranteed, with much of the contract being backloaded. The latter was key because the Saints needed to backload money to stay under the salary cap.
Unfortunately, they also needed to dump a number of key players to stay under the cap as well. Here’s a look at some of the notables who were let go by New Orleans this offseason:
RB Darren Sproles – The longtime safety valve for Drew Brees was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a mere 5th-round pick.
S Malcolm Jenkins – Also went to the Eagles after signing a three-year, $16.5 million deal. He’s already racked up three interceptions and a touchdown for his new team.
S Roman Harper – Signed with Carolina and has started all four games thus far while scoring a touchdown.
WR Lance Moore – Plays for Pittsburgh now and is working into prominent role after coming off an injury.
As you can see, the Saints let two good safeties go in an effort to make way for a higher-paid safety. And Jenkins wasn’t really playing up to his contract in the early going anyways. The three-time Pro Bowler was struggling to fit into Rob Ryan’s defensive scheme, and he missed some key tackles.
Byrd will play a key role in New Orleans’ foreseeable future. But at the moment, his previous struggles and season-ending injury will have many Saints fans scratching their heads over the $54 million deal. Furthermore, it’s already looking like New Orleans could miss the playoffs this season – a huge blow to a Drew Brees-led team that expects to compete for a Super Bowl every year.