The New Orleans Saints have placed starting free safety Jairus Byrd on season-ending injured reserve after he tore his meniscus in Thursday's practice, Coach Sean Payton announced at his Friday press conference.
Byrd was the team's top free-agent acquisition. He started all four games this season and has the team's lone turnover, a forced fumble against Atlanta in Week 1.
Byrd, a former second-rounder out of Oregon, had spent the last five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, posting 22 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 33 passes defensed and 356 tackles. Approaching free agency in 2013 as an unrestricted free agent, the Bills slapped the franchise tag on Byrd that gave him $6.9 million in guaranteed money.
This will be a tough loss for the struggling Saints, who are coming off a 38-17 whipping by the Dallas Cowboys. That dropped the Saints to 1-3 on the year, but they're still just one game behind for the NFC South lead.