There are a lot of names in the discussion for worst free agent signing in New Orleans Saints history: Jason David, Albert Connell, and Wally Williams all come to mind. Two names definitely near the top of the list are still (at least presently) on the current Saints roster in Jairus Byrd and Brandon Browner.
Brandon Browner was signed to a starting cornerback opposite Keenan Lewis after the New England Patriots declined his option in 2015. Browner was coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins with the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and the 2014 Patriots. He signed a three-year deal worth 15 million dollars, with $7.75 million guaranteed.
Browner would then go on to have one of the worst seasons a cornerback could have. He set an NFL record for most penalties in a single season. He was beat repeatedly in coverage, with opposing quarterbacks picking on him the entire game. Most quarterbacks knew they could either get an easy holding penalty for an automatic first down, or a homerun on busted coverage simply by throwing the ball in Browner's direction. This ultimately lead to Saints fans booing (and booing loudly) Browner during his introductions at his last home game in the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jairus Byrd was signed one year before Browner in 2014. Byrd signed a six-year $54 million deal with a whopping $28 million guaranteed. Byrd was coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl-caliber year in 2013 (having appeared in both 2013 and 2012, as well as 2009), and was known as a ball-hawking safety who could potentially lead the league in interceptions.
Despite averaging over four interceptions a year from 2009-2013, Byrd was able to pull down one (ONE) interception during the entire 2014 and 2015 seasons combined. Granted, Byrd was also plagued by injuries during both seasons with the Saints, playing in only 4 games his first season, and missing an extra 3 games in 2015. While Byrd was not the culprit of as many penalties or the cause of a lot of as many large completions as his teammate Brandon Browner, Byrd's biggest problem was that he just was not on the field enough. This is especially troublesome considering Byrd's gigantic contract.
Even though Brandon Browner had more negative publicity due to penalties and Saints fans were tired of seeing him chase wide receivers who ran past him on routes, I would argue Jairus Byrd is in fact the Saints bigger signing bust. Byrd has been hampered with injuries and had yet to regain his Pro Bowl form from his days in Buffalo. Byrd, two years younger than Browner, was signed to a way bigger contract, with significantly more money on the line, and with much higher expectations. Byrd has failed to live up his expectations or the value of his contract, and Browner will most likely be cut this offseason with the Saints obligations to Browner ending this year.
So what says you, Who Dat Nation? Who was the bigger free agent bust, Byrd or Browner? Would either qualify as the worst free agent signing in Saints history? Vote in the poll! Send me presents.