Jairus Byrd gets the payday he was looking for

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The former Bills safety wanted to get paid handsomely. He had his doubters and detractors, but in the end he got his wish.

A lot will be written about Jairus Byrd in the next few days. As one of the biggest prizes in free agency, perhaps the best defensive player available, Byrd and his mega-contract with the New Orleans Saints will be a primary subject in free agent round-ups, analytical posts and how Rob Ryan might use his new prize. But what should be noted in tandem with the predictable conversation is this:

Jairus Byrd got what he wanted.

SB Nation NFL

For nearly a year, Byrd has been making his case as an underappreciated safety for the Buffalo Bills. Just last summer, a report emerged that Jairus Byrd wanted to be the best-paid player at his position. The Bills reportedly countered by offering him the chance to be among the top five. He was given the franchise tag and the two sides couldn't find a common ground. In the end, he played under the tag and the pair were ready to dance again this offseason.

This time around, it was clear the impasse was too great. The numbers were specific this winter: $9 million per year. Three other safeties average $8 million or more -- Eric Berry of the Chiefs, Eric Weddle of the Chargers and Dashon Goldson of the Buccaneers. Byrd wanted to be the first $9 million player at safety in the NFL.

While some might still scoff at that price tag, the reality is that Byrd's emergence on the market came at the perfect time. In fact, the top dollar for elite-level free safeties will likely increase over the next few years. The ability to depend upon a center fielder like Byrd is key in today's pass-happy league, and the Seattle Seahawks showed just how valuable the position on the back end of the defense can be when Kam Chancellor helped shut down the mighty Broncos offense in their Super Bowl win. And let's not forget that Chancellor is well-paid himself at $7 million per year.

For the Saints to keep pace with the Seahawks and other contenders in the NFC this year, it's not enough to surround Drew Brees and hope to outscore the opponent. Rob Ryan's defense needed a playmaker on the back end, and they ponied up to get the best on the market. Several moves were made to get the money together, and analysis of Byrd's signing will be a common topic all year long as the results play out on the field. However, those are questions without answers for the next several months.

What can be determined in the present is that Jairus Byrd got his wish. To those who thought he wasn't worth it, the market proved otherwise. Byrd's wish to be the best-paid safety in the NFL is now a reality, and his $9 million annual salary is the amount that the Saints are wagering to make it to the top.

More from SBNation.com

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.