METAIRIE, La. — As soon as the window opened for teams to contact player representatives for free agency, Jairus Byrd knew he would be a hot commodity.
But he wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out and where he would end up.
Turns out, just one visit, and a boatload of wins, did the trick.
Byrd signed a six-year contract with the Saints and less than 24 hours later, expressed exactly what it was that allowed him to sign with New Orleans.
“The winning culture,” Byrd said Wednesday. “What coach (Sean) Payton has done and what Drew Brees has done here. Any time you have that explosive offense, it always helps. If you’re a guy on defense and you know a team is able to get leads on people, jump out to early leads, that bodes well for guys like me who want to get turnovers and create turnovers because it makes another team one dimensional.
“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.”
Indeed, since 2009, when Byrd entered the NFL and the Saints won a Super Bowl, New Orleans has the league’s second-most wins (55) and has finished with a top five offense seven times in eight seasons.
It helped that Byrd’s Bills lost in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in late October this past year. He saw first-hand exactly what it would be like to play in the Black and Gold in front of some of the more boisterous fans in the league.
“Just from the defensive side, I just see that it’s really aggressive,” Byrd said.
While Byrd said there were other suitors for his business, he ultimately had final say in where he took his first visit.
The 5-foot-10, 203-pound safety was set to meet once more with general manager Mickey Loomis and Payton before flying back to Buffalo after his whirlwind night. Loomis and Payton were unavailable for comment Wednesday as they were at Alabama’s Pro Day.
When he returns, he’s looking forward to meeting Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints’ second-year safety.
“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. So everything I’ve heard is that he’s a really good player.”
Byrd has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in his five NFL seasons, including five this past season. The Saints finished 2013 with just 19 takeaways.
The newly-signed player, who will wear No. 31, said he’s hoping to change that for New Orleans.
“That's what I pride myself being able to do is create turnovers -- force fumbles or whatever it might be,” Byrd said. “That's something I'm looking forward to coming in and doing.”