NFL

Byrd says Saints' 'winning culture' helped make his choice

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The Canadian Press
3/12/2014 5:45:42 PM
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METAIRIE, La. -- Jairus Byrd was drawn to the Big Easy by New Orleans' "winning culture" and an explosive offence, so much that the safety signed a six-year contract with the Saints.

New Orleans' efforts to make him a Saint began almost as soon as teams were allowed to contact agents of players on the free agent market. Though Byrd said other teams showed interest, it was ultimately up to him to let New Orleans have the first chance to sign him.

They brought him in early Tuesday evening and shortly after, announced the two sides had agreed to terms.

"The winning culture" put New Orleans over the top, Byrd said. "What coach (Sean) Payton has done and what Drew Brees has done here. Any time you have that explosive offence, it always helps."

New Orleans' 55 wins since 2009 are second-most in the NFL and the Saints have been to the post-season in four of the past five seasons. The offence, meanwhile, has finished No. 1 four times since 2006 and in the top five seven times.

The Saints' explosive offence really stood out to Byrd, who has 33 forced turnovers -- including 22 interceptions -- since entering the NFL five seasons ago.

"If you're a guy on defence and you know a team is able to get leads on people, . that bodes well for guys like me who want to get turnovers and create turnovers because it makes another team one dimensional," Byrd said. "That's a really big factor and what allowed me to weigh all my options and think about what the best situation was for myself."

He'll get a chance now to play beside Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints' first-round pick in 2013 whose hard-hitting style made an immediate impact in the defensive backfield. Vaccaro started 14 games as a rookie and finished with a sack, an interception and a forced fumble to go with 62 tackles.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does really well," Byrd said. "And when he played against us, I know he made a lot of plays."

Byrd saw firsthand just what he's about to join when the Bills, who drafted him in the second-round in 2009, lost in New Orleans 35-17 on Oct. 27.

That day, the Saints finished with 386 total yards of offence and went 3-for-5 in the red zone. New Orleans' defence, meanwhile, allowed only 299 total yards and just 5 of 13 on third downs. The Saints finished with one interception and had two fumble recoveries on four forced fumbles.

It didn't hurt that the Superdome boasted its usual loud, energetic atmosphere.

"Playing here last year, I saw how the atmosphere was," Byrd said. "It was electric. They're really behind their team. The Dome was rocking when I was here. They feed off that, and I think that's really big."

Jairus Byrd (Photo: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
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