INDIANAPOLIS -- As the NFL combine gets set to kick into high gear this week, the league offered a cautionary tale about free agency.
On Tuesday night, news broke that the Saints are going to cut safety Jairus Byrd, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, three years after they signed him to a monster six-year deal. By cutting Byrd, the Saints will save cap space, but they'll also take on plenty of dead money just to move on.
Just three years ago, Byrd was the hottest safety on the market. He was the guy a lot of Eagles fans targeted. They wanted Byrd, not Malcolm Jenkins.
Well, this one worked out well for the Eagles. While Byrd's first season with New Orleans ended after four games with a knee injury, Jenkins has become one of the Eagles' best players.
Byrd has missed more games the last three years (15) than Jenkins has missed defensive snaps for the Eagles (eight). To Byrd's credit, he did play all 16 games in 2016.
But even when they're both on the field, Jenkins has been the much better player, being named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. He has eight interceptions over the last three years to Byrd's three and Jenkins has returned half of those interceptions for touchdowns. Byrd hasn't had a pick-six since 2011.
The Eagles rewarded Jenkins with a five-year extension before the start of the 2016 season.
This story should be on the minds of Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas this week in Indianapolis as free agency approaches. It's not always about the biggest splash; it's about finding the right fit for a team.
Even if the Eagles really wanted to make a splash this year, they might not have a lot of room to work with. They're strapped in terms of salary cap space, but they do have some options. This week will serve as an opportunity to meet with the representatives for several of their players already under contract like Connor Barwin, Jason Kelce, Ryan Mathews and Mychal Kendricks. Trades or cuts would free up plenty more space.
There won't be a break after the combine this year thanks to a congested schedule. Almost immediately after the Eagles return to Philly, the legal tampering window will begin on March 7 and free agency opens on March 9.
With this cautionary tale in mind, the Eagles have to avoid signing a Jairus Byrd and instead sign a Malcolm Jenkins. Easier said than done.