CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers signed three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd on Tuesday with starter Kurt Coleman set to miss multiple games with a sprained knee.
Byrd was a three-time Pro Bowl selection early in his career with the Buffalo Bills. He signed a blockbuster six-year deal with the New Orleans Saints in 2014 worth up to $54 million.
But Byrd suffered a major knee injury during practice four games into the 2014 season and never totally returned to form. Scheduled to make $7.8 million in salary and bonuses this season, he was released in March and remained unsigned until Tuesday.
Byrd will fill the roster spot of wide receiver Damiere Byrd, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken left forearm in Sunday's 33-30 victory at New England.
Coleman, the starting free safety opposite strong safety Mike Adams, sprained his left MCL in the second quarter against New England. One of six team captains, he was seen walking through the locker room on Monday wearing a brace and stimulating device on the knee.
Byrd started 15 games for the Saints last season and had two interceptions. But he had only three interceptions in three years.
Byrd had 22 interceptions and forced 11 fumbles in his first 5 seasons with Buffalo after being selected in the second round out of Oregon in 2009. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009, 2012 and 2013.