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If money not enough, chance to win and make difference drew Jairus Byrd to Saints

Jairus Byrd was enamored with the idea of the New Orleans Saints enough to make them his first free-agent visit.

And they were enamored enough with the former Buffalo Bills safety to make sure he didn't leave Tuesday night.

The Saints signed Byrd to a six-year contract worth $54 million and nearly $28 million in guarantees, including an $11 million signing bonus.

At his introductory news conference today, Byrd spoke about the elements that drew him to the Saints. He cited "the winning culture" and a chance to provide exactly what the Saints' defense has been missing.

The Saints are a perennial contender, and as long as coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees are putting points on the scoreboard, a playmaker such as Byrd will have the opportunity to make an impact against opponents routinely trying to catch up.

"Any time you have that explosive offense, it always helps," Byrd said. "If you're a guy on defense and you know your 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."

New Orleans had 19 takeaways last year. Only three teams had fewer. They broke even in turnover ratio, tied for 14th in the NFL.

Byrd recorded 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and five recoveries in 73 career games for Buffalo.

Each of his three Pro Bowls was under a different head coach and defensive coordinator, but the Bills never won more than six games during his five seasons.

"Anytime you can have a defensive with what they had here last year and have an offense that's already potent and explosive, it's kind of like a yin and the yang," Byrd said. "They work off each other. Anytime you have that explosive offense, you're going to need a defense that can hold teams down."

Byrd also expressed his appreciation for the Superdome's energy. The Saints have one of the NFL's greatest home-field advantages.

"That was big," Byrd said. "Playing here last year, I saw how the atmosphere was. It was electric.

"They're really behind their team. The dome was rocking when I was here. They feed off that, and I think that's really big. Anytime you're playing football on defense you always want to have that noise."

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