Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints shocked everybody when they swooped in and signed Buffalo free safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year deal worth a reported $54 million.
While all the experts in the media were trying to figure out if the Saints had gone all in to try and get another Lombardi trophy, the move showed the Saints believe their defense is closer to being great than their offense.
This move had Rob Ryan’s fingerprints all over it. I’d like to think during one late night early in the offseason Ryan and Sean Payton were chatting over a couple of beers….
Sean: For our offense to be really great again we need to resign our free agent linemen, get younger and faster at receiver, plus maybe add another pass catching running back because Darren Sproles is slowing down.
Rob: On defense all I need is good health and a kick-butt, world-class free safety and I’ll unleash hell on THE ENTIRE LEAGUE.
Sean: Are you being serious? All you need is a great free safety for the defense to be great?
Rob: Darn right. You get me that kid Jairus Byrd from Buffalo and our defense will be a quarterback sacking, turnover-creating monster. With our cap room he’s a pipe dream though.
Sean: Mickey Loomis makes dreams come true my friend.
OK, maybe that’s a little over the top, but in my mind it totally happened at Ms. Mae’s.
The point is when the Saints made their biggest free agent signing since Drew Brees, it wasn’t for a new toy for Sean Payton’s offense, but for the NFL's No. 4 defense. If this move doesn’t prove the Saints not only believe in the defense’s ability to be great and show how much trust they have in Rob Ryan, I don’t know what does.
Make no mistake -- if Jairus Byrd plays for the Saints like he has for the Bills, the 2014 defense has a chance to be great. Great as in 1991-92 Dome Patrol GREAT. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but the Saints haven’t had a young ball-hawking safety like Byrd since Sammy Knight was intercepting 28 passes in six seasons in New Orleans.
As a fan, the only thing I love more than the Saints winning is the surprise big name free agent signing. There is nothing better than not expecting the Saints to do anything in free agency then suddenly on Twitter it’s reported Jairus Byrd is going to visit New Orleans.
Oh my God, I thought the Saints didn’t have any money? But when the Saints bring in someone for a high profile visit they almost always sign them!
/checks Twitter 9000 times rest of day.
Then the Saints sign the guy and we get to fantasize the rest of the offseason how spectacular a safety tandem of Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro will be. It is like football Christmas in March. Rob Ryan looked so happy marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the man now has the best safety tandem east of Seattle.
For all of you worried the Saints have ruined their salary cap in 2016, I say this with nothing but love. WHO CARES?
By 2016 for all we know the Earth might be invaded by aliens and we will be enslaved and shipped off to another planet to do work in salt mines. I for one would like to thank Mickey Loomis for trying really hard to win the Saints another Super Bowl before I’m a slave on the planet Saltine.
The Saints most likely are going to be a disaster for a while after Drew Brees is no longer a superhero. Going to games will be as fun as walking your dog in Lakeview during the zombie apocalypse. Extra salary cap space ain’t fixing that problem. It’s just so darn tough to worry about the future with all those fantastic Jairus Byrd interceptions running through my head.
A final thought on the Saints front office. Mickey Loomis is the best GM in Saints history. He along with the people he has hired to help him can work flat out magic. Let’s give a little credit to Tom Benson as well. Teams like Cincinnati and Oakland have millions more in salary cap space than the Saints yet did nothing incredibly aggressive last week. The Bengals even let a Pro Bowl defensive end go to Tampa.
The extra cap space won’t help them win playoff games in 2014.
Mickey Loomis likes to be aggressive while the Saints have a once in a generation quarterback and coach, so Tom Benson lets him. Moves like signing Jairus Byrd help me overlook the season ticket increase. August can’t get here fast enough.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.