The New Orleans Saints weren't expected to be a big player in free agency, but they signed a big name free agent Tuesday, inking safety Jairus Byrd to a 6 year deal. The news was first reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

According to the report, the deal is worth $54 million, with $28 guaranteed.

The new Saints safety released the following statement on his signing.

"I first want to thank the Buffalo Bills organization and the great fans of Buffalo for their support during my time there. I think there are great things to come here in New Orleans and I'm excited to join this team. We played against the Saints this year and I saw their style of play and was impressed by it. I think I will fit well in the scheme. This is a great opportunity to join a championship organization. I look forward to meeting my new teammates and being part of a great Saints defense."

Byrd is a three-time AP All-Pro. He's 27 years old and is regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL. At 5'10, 223 pounds, his aggressive style and play-making ability made him a fan favorite in Buffalo, where he reeled in 22 interceptions in 5 seasons. The rest of his career numbers aren't too bad either. 356 total tackles, 3 sacks, 33 pass defenses, 11 forced fumbles and 2 defensive touchdowns are a big reason why he's gone to 3 pro bowls in 5 years. He has played 73 games in his career, missing 7 due to injuries.

Earlier Tuesday, safety Malcolm Jenkins, who spent his first 5 season in New Orleans, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins acknowledged that the Saints never made him an offer, meaning Byrd was a primary free-agent target all along. He'll play free safety alongside Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro.

Before inking Byrd, the Saints were estimated to be $2.7 million under the salary cap. Loomis will have to restructure and/or make several cuts on the current roster to make Byrd's deal fit. He'll also have to clear space to sign other free agents.

On the opening day of free agency, the Saints certainly surprised many. Without much cap space, they signed the best safety on the free agent market, something Loomis was clearly happy about.

"We had hoped for the opportunity to pursue Jairus Byrd," Loomis said in a statement released by the team. "After meeting with him, we are excited that he will become a member of the New Orleans Saints. We think that his play-making abilities will be an excellent fit with what we are trying to accomplish with our defense and in our secondary."

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