After Further Review: It's easy to get excited about Byrd visit - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

After Further Review: It's easy to get excited about Byrd visit

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(AP Photo) Sean Payton will get the first chance to land Jairus Byrd (AP Photo) Sean Payton will get the first chance to land Jairus Byrd

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE - It's just a visit. I repeat, it's just a visit. But if you're a Saints fan, it's hard to not get excited about the Saints courting former Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd.

There's no denying what Rob Ryan did with this defense last year. He took the laughingstock of the league in 2012 and turned it into the fourth ranked defense in 2013.

The transformation was remarkable, but the one missing element was takeaways.

Consider this, the Saints pass rush generated  49 sacks last year and countless pressures. That consistent pressure theoretically should lead to hurried throws, which should lead to more opportunities to pick off passes. Yet despite their chances, the Saints only got their hands on 12. By comparison, the Super Bowl champs had 28 in Seattle and that was with five less sacks.

Imagine what this team could have accomplished with just a few more possessions in a game.

That was the secret ingredient in 2009. That Saints defense wasn't the most dominant, just the most opportunistic. Last year's version was the exact opposite.

Byrd can change all that. In five seasons he has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles and is exactly the kind of ballhawk this team has missed since a certain other player roamed the defensive backfield (bad timing to say his name now).

Let's not kid ourselves, signing him won't be easy ; he reportedly wants north of $8 million a year. With the reported impending release of Darren Sproles, the Saints are roughly just $6 million under the cap.  That can be tricky to make the numbers work.  It will likely put more veterans on the chopping block and seal the fates of their other two big unrestricted free agents in Brian de la Puente and Zach Strief.

But if the Saints want him bad enough, they will find a way. As for Byrd, the fact that the most coveted free agent on the market made New Orleans his first stop speaks volumes to the interest he must have in the Saints.

Now it's up to Sean Payton and company to capitalize on that interest and not let him leave town without a contract.  

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