Kevin Byard

Poll: Who Fared Best At Trade Deadline

A week removed from this year’s trade deadline, every team will soon have its acquired talent in uniform. The 49ers, Lions and Jaguars made trades while in bye weeks; Chase Young, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ezra Cleveland will suit up for their new teams soon.

On this note, it is time to gauge the position every notable buyer and seller landed in following the deals. This year’s deadline featured two second-round picks being moved, though the teams that made those moves (Chicago, Seattle) have different timelines in place.

We have to start with the Commanders, who scrapped their yearslong Young-Montez Sweat partnership by making the surprise decision to move both defensive ends hours before the deadline. Although the team was listening to offers on both, it was widely assumed they would only part with one, thus saving a contract offer or a 2024 franchise tag for the other alongside well-paid D-tackles Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. New owner Josh Harris looks to have made his bigger-picture plan clear, however, pressing upon the Commanders’ football-ops department to explore moving both.

Washington collected a second-rounder that likely will land in the 30s in exchange for Sweat, who was in a contract year at the time. It only obtained a compensatory third for Young, who drew interest from other teams (including the Ravens). For the first time in the common draft era, Washington holds five picks in the first three rounds. It cannot be assumed Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew will be making those picks, but Harris has effectively forced his hot-seat staffers to make do this season without Young and Sweat, who have combined for 11.5 sacks this year.

The initial team to pounce on the Commanders’ sale made a buyer’s move despite being in a seller’s position for the second straight year. After trading what became the No. 32 overall pick for Chase Claypool, GM Ryan Poles signed off on the Sweat pickup. The Bears have struggled to rush the passer under Matt Eberflus, having traded Khalil Mack in March 2022 and Robert Quinn last October. While acquiring a veteran in a contract year injects risk into the equation, Poles had the franchise tag at his disposal. But the Bears made good use of their newfound negotiating rights with Sweat, extending him on a four-year, $98MM pact. Despite no Pro Bowls or double-digit sack seasons, Sweat is now the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid edge rusher. Though, the Bears’ long-term edge outlook appears rosier compared to its pre-Halloween view.

Mayhew, Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel have provided third-round compensatory picks for the 49ers, who have been the NFL’s chief beneficiary of the Rooney Rule tweak that awards third-round picks to teams who see minority coaches or execs become HCs or GMs. The team has more picks coming after the Ran Carthon and DeMeco Ryans hires. Using one to acquire Young seems like a low-risk move, given the former Defensive Rookie of the Year’s talent. Young has made strides toward recapturing the form he showed before his severe 2021 knee injury, and he is on pace for a career high in sacks.

The 49ers, who won last year’s trade deadline by landing Christian McCaffrey, will deploy Young alongside ex-college teammate Nick Bosa and the rest of their high-priced D-line contingent. The team will have a decision to make on Young soon; the free agent-to-be is not eyeing in-season extension talks, either. San Francisco could at least be in position to nab a midround compensatory pick, should Young leave in 2024.

The Young move came a day after the Seahawks obtained Leonard Williams from the Giants. That move cost Seattle second- and fifth-round picks. Williams is also in a contract year, but with the Giants picking up most of the tab, Seattle has the veteran D-tackle on its cap sheet at $647K. The former Jets top-10 pick has shown consistent ability to provide inside pressure, and the USC alum’s best work came in his previous contract year (2020). Gunning for another big payday, Williams joins Dre’Mont Jones in what is probably the best interior D-line duo of the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll era.

Seattle still surrendered a second-round pick for a player who could be a rental. Williams cannot realistically be franchise-tagged in 2024, with the Giants tagging him in 2020 and ’21, and he is not yet on Seattle’s extension radar. The Giants have already paid Dexter Lawrence and were planning on letting Williams walk. They passed on a comp pick for the trade haul, effectively buying a second-round pick in the way the Broncos did in the 2021 Von Miller trade. The Giants, who suddenly could be in the market for a 2024 QB addition, now have an additional second-rounder at their disposal.

While they made their move a week before the deadline, the Eagles landed the most accomplished player of this year’s in-season trade crop. Kevin Byard is a two-time first-team All-Pro safety, and although he is in his age-30 season, the former third-round pick is signed through 2024. The Eagles sent the Titans fifth- and sixth-round picks (and Terrell Edmunds) for Byard, a Philadelphia native, marking the team’s second splash trade for a safety in two years. Philly’s C.J. Gardner-Johnson swap turned out well, and Byard not being a pure rental could make this a better move.

Rather than turning to a fifth-round rookie, the Vikings acquired Josh Dobbs in a pick swap involving sixth- and/or seventh-rounders and saw the move translate to a surprising Week 9 win. Dobbs following in Baker Mayfield‘s footsteps as a trade acquisition-turned-immediate starter also made him the rare QB to see extensive action for two teams in two weeks; Mayfield was inactive in his final game as a Panther. The well-traveled Dobbs could give the Vikings a better chance to stay afloat in the NFC playoff race.

The Lions (Peoples-Jones), Jaguars (Cleveland) and Bills (Rasul Douglas) also made buyer’s moves at the deadline. The Bills gave the Packers a third-round pick, collecting a fifth in the pick-swap deal, for Douglas. They will hope the Green Bay starter can help stabilize their cornerback corps after Tre’Davious White‘s second major injury.

Who ended up faring the best at this year’s deadline? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s moves in the comments section.

NFL Restructures: Dawkins, Sanders, Byard

Here are a few details on recent contract restructures around the NFL:

  • Last week, the Bills and left tackle Dion Dawkins agreed to a restructured deal to help create some cap space, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. Buffalo converted $5.18MM of Dawkins’ 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, clearing up $3.9MM of cap space.
  • The Dolphins restructured the contract of kicker Jason Sanders earlier this month, per Jason Fitzgerald of While the specifics have not yet been reported, Sanders’ cap hit in 2023 will be lessened from $3.7MM to $2.4MM.
  • Yates reported another restructure this week, with the Eagles restructuring the contract of newly acquired safety Kevin Byard. The team converted $888,750 of Byard’s 2023 salary into a bonus in order to clear $711K of cap space.

Trade Rumors: Packers, Smith, Byard, Raiders, Broncos, Jeudy, Sutton, Rams

Attached to his second Packers contract, Preston Smith is signed through 2026. During a 2022 offseason in which the Packers released Za’Darius Smith, they reupped Preston Smith on a four-year, $52.5MM pact. With the team going through considerable change since that point, the soon-to-be 31-year-old outside linebacker is a name being tossed around in scouting circles ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes. It would cost the Packers just more than $4MM in dead money to trade Smith before the deadline, and the team has a clear extension candidate on the edge in Rashan Gary. Green Bay also used the No. 13 overall pick on pass rusher Lukas Van Ness in April.

In his fifth year with the Packers, Smith has two sacks and five QB hits. Smith posted 17.5 sacks between the 2021 and ’22 seasons, however. His contract would not be difficult for a team to absorb, with a March restructure knocking the 2023 salary to $1.17MM. No guaranteed money remains on the deal post-2023.

With five days remaining until trades are shut down for the year, here is the latest on potential moves:

  • Kevin Byard refused a Titans pay-cut request this offseason, later agreeing to a resolution that helped the Titans afford DeAndre Hopkins. Even as the Titans fell to 2-4, the eighth-year safety did not request a trade, Terry McCormick of notes. Byard, 30, still wanted to finish his career with the Titans, per McCormick, who adds the Titans became receptive when the Eagles inquired on the All-Pro’s availability. The Eagles sent fifth- and sixth-round picks, along with safety Terrell Edmunds, to the Titans for Byard. While Byard is a Philly native, he has played his entire college and pro careers in Tennessee. Jon Robinson‘s first draft as Titans GM produced Byard in Round 3 out of Middle Tennessee State; Byard is signed through 2024.
  • On the wrong end of one of this season’s worst losses — a 30-12 rout at the hands of the Justin Fields-less Bears — the Raiders are 3-4. But the team is not shifting into sell mode just yet, with Tashan Reed of The Athletic indicating the team is still looking at buyer’s moves (subscription required). A pass rusher remains a clear target for the team, per Reed, though a move to separate from Hunter Renfrow continues to be circulated. The Raiders used the No. 7 overall pick on Tyree Wilson, but their plan of grooming the Texas Tech alum behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones combusted after Jones’ messy saga led to an arrest (and later a second arrest) before a release from the NFI list. Wilson has one sack so far, and Crosby remains the only Raider with more than 1.5 this season.
  • While could certainly be classified as posturing, the Broncos are not committed to moving one of their receivers before the deadline. Trade targets before last year’s deadline as well, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton came up frequently as trade chips this offseason. Should Denver not receive a substantial offer, The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider notes the team is fine moving forward with each and continuing to build on an offensive improvement after last season’s disaster. Jeudy, who is tied to a $12.99MM fifth-year option salary in 2024, has been viewed as more likely to be moved. But his value has dropped compared to where it was this offseason, which could put the Broncos to a big-picture decision. Sutton, whose $15MM-per-year contract runs through 2025, has been more effective in Sean Payton‘s offense. Although the Broncos will drop to 2-6 if they lose yet again to the Chiefs this week, it is far from a lock the team trades one of its wideouts.
  • Rumblings about the Rams going back to the buyer’s well surfaced recently, but The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue indicates the team is not expected to be a notable player before the deadline. Sean McVay said recently the team would likely stand down this year, which will be a letdown for headline-driving purposes, considering what the Rams have done at past McVay-era trade deadlines.

Titans, Eagles Agree To Kevin Byard Trade

The Eagles have made a signficant addition to their secondary. Philadelphia has agreed to a trade which will see them acquire safety Kevin Byard from the Titans, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reports that fellow safety Terrell Edmunds, along with 2024 fifth- and sixth-round picks will be headed back to Tennessee. The Eagles have long been named as a candidate to make an addition in the secondary – particularly at the safety spot – and now that has taken place. The move marks an end to Byard’s seven-plus year run in Nashville.

With that said, this move will represent a homecoming for the Philadelphia native. Byard’s time with the Titans appeared to be on shaky ground in the offseason, with new general manager Ran Carthon approaching him (unsuccessfully) about agreeing to a pay cut. In spite of that, the 30-year-old made it clear he was not looking to be moved out of Tennessee. He ultimately agreed to a restructured contract, a move which lowered his base salary to $4MM this season.

Given the ease which which his 2023 earnings could be absorbed – along with the fact no guaranteed money is in place in 2024, the final year of his deal – Byard represented an attractive trade chip. He was recently reported to be the subject of interest from teams, but doubts remained regarding the compensation Tennessee could fetch in return. Instead of seeing Byard potentially become a cap casualty in the offseason, the Titans will now receive a pair of Day 3 picks along with a short-term replacement in Edmunds, who signed a one-year deal this offseason.

The picks exchanged here will be the Eagles’ highest pick in the 2024 fifth and sixth rounds, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets. Both are conditional selections, per’s Howard Balzer. It is unknown at this point what conditions are included here, but this will bring an end to an eight-season partnership between Byard and the Titans.

Byard earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro acclaim in 2017 and ’21, and he has remained productive across his time in Nashville. He has recorded multiple interceptions every full year since his rookie campaign, and eclipsed 100 tackles twice. His ball production and coverage marks have taken a step back this year, but he will be joining a more talented defense upon arrival with the Eagles, a team which has lost a number of key members of its secondary since their Super Bowl appearance.

That included the free agent departure of both Marcus Epps and C.J. Gardner-Johnsonand Philadelphia has been in search of a true replacement for the latter’s playmaking in particular early in the season. Byard will have the chance to take on a starting role alongside Reed Blankenship (when healthy) in the team’s new-look safety arrangement. Their performances when paired together will go a long way in determining the secondary’s success, especially given the season-ending injury suffered by slot corner Avonte Maddox.

The Eagles entered today with roughly $4.3MM in cap space, so this move will likely be the most notable one the reigning NFC champions can afford. Still, it proves the team’s all-in approach as they look to go one step further than they did last year. From Tennessee’s perspective, meanwhile, this move will invite questions about Carthon and Co. being willing to part with other veterans. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry are not believed to be on the block, but at 2-4 it would not come as no surprise if the Titans were to act as sellers in other moves ahead of the October 31 deadline.

Titans Unlikely To Trade Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins

The Titans are currently 2-4 and may be without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill for their last contest before the October 31 trade deadline (they have a bye this week and face the Falcons on October 29). They clearly profile as potential deadline sellers, but head coach Mike Vrabel is not throwing in the towel on the 2023 season, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports.

As such, Tennessee is not motivated to trade star running back Derrick Henry, as Robinson reports. While there is obvious concern about how many carries Henry has accumulated over the past few years, the two-time rushing leader has trade value. He still has some burst and is maintaing a solid 4.3 yards-per-carry average this season, and it is fair to expect that he will remain productive for the rest of the campaign.

Dianna Russini of The Athletic, though, has not found a team with much interest in Henry (subscription required). Perhaps that is because of his high usage rate and the fact that he is less than three months away from his 30th birthday, or perhaps it is simply because rival execs do not believe the Titans will seriously consider trading the longtime focal point of their offense. In any event, it presently appears likely that Henry will stay in Nashville through at least the end of the current season.

Likewise, it seems that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will stay put. Robinson has spoken to a few receiver-needy clubs, and he does not get the sense that Tennessee will be able to get much of a return in a Hopkins trade. The three-time First Team All-Pro made plenty of PFR headlines during his free agency stint this year, though he later conceded that his market did not develop as he expected after he was released by the Cardinals in May. He ultimately joined the Titans on a two-year, $26MM deal, and it does not sound as if other clubs are anxious to take on the balance of that contract. Through six games in 2023, Hopkins has 27 catches on 47 targets for 376 yards. He has yet to find the endzone.

As opposed to his veteran teammates on the offensive side of the ball, safety Kevin Byard is receiving trade interest, per Russini. However, Robinson does not believe Byard would fetch anything more than a late-round pick, and assuming that’s the case, the Titans would be better served by keeping him in the fold.

Wideout Treylon Burks, a 2022 first-round pick who was supposed to help replace A.J. Brown‘s production, has also been the subject of trade inquiries, as Russini writes. Unsurprisingly, the Titans are not inclined to move any young player, let alone a player who was taken on Day 1 of the draft just one year ago.

Titans, S Kevin Byard Agree To Restructure

After much speculation about his financial future, Kevin Byard has agreed to a reworked contract. The All-Pro safety restructured his Titans deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Largest Cap Hits Amongst NFL Defenders]

Byard will see his base salary dropped from $14MM to $11MM, Rapoport notes, but incentives will allow him to earn back the difference. This move puts to rest questions related to the 29-year-old’s short-term standing with the organization after new general manager Ran Carthon unsuccessfully attempted to work out a pay cut with Byard in March. Tennessee parted ways with several costly veterans this offseason but the two-time Pro Bowler remains under contract through 2024.

Despite the pay cut request, Byard made it clear last month that he was not looking for a trade out of Tennessee, his only home during his seven-year career. The former third-rounder remains one of the league’s most productive safeties and delivered another strong performance in 2022 with 108 tackles and four interceptions. He will be counted on as an anchor of the Titans’ secondary once again this season.

Byard has no guaranteed money on his deal next year, so his performance will not only affect his earnings in 2023 but also the team’s willingness to remain committed to him for the future. A major injury or signficant decline in play would seemingly be necessary for his tenure to be put in doubt, but the new front office has already shown a willingness to try and lower the Middle Tennessee State product’s cap burden.

The Titans entered today with $8.3MM in cap space, a figure which will change significantly when their DeAndre Hopkins signing becomes official. Byard, like the All-Pro wideout, will be a major part of the team’s plans this season, and he can now approach training camp and the build-up to the fall with clarity regarding his financial situation.

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Defense

While the NFL’s top 2023 cap hits go to players on offense, a number of pass rushers are tied to lofty figures as well. None check in higher than Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Williams and Chiefs D-tackle Chris Jones carry high contract-year cap hits, while the Steelers’ two front-seven cornerstones each are set to go into training camp with cap figures north of $20MM. As the salary cap climbed to $224.8MM this year, here are the top defensive cap figures as camps near:

  1. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $32.26MM
  2. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $29.37MM
  3. Myles Garrett, DE (Browns): $29.18MM
  4. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $28.29MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DL (Rams): $26MM
  6. Arik Armstead, DT (49ers): $23.95MM
  7. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $22.26MM
  8. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $21.48MM
  9. Jonathan Allen, DT (Commanders): $21.44MM
  10. Shaquil Barrett, OLB (Buccaneers): $21.25MM
  11. Grady Jarrett, DT (Falcons): $20.63MM
  12. Marlon Humphrey, CB (Ravens): $19.99MM
  13. Shaquille Leonard, LB (Colts): $19.79MM
  14. Kevin Byard, S (Titans): $19.62MM
  15. Adoree’ Jackson, CB (Giants): $19.08MM
  16. Harold Landry, OLB (Titans): $18.8MM
  17. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.15MM
  18. Jamal Adams, S (Seahawks): $18.11MM
  19. Matt Judon, DE (Patriots): $18.107MM
  20. Quandre Diggs, S (Seahawks): $18.1MM
  21. Nick Bosa, DE (49ers): $17.9MM
  22. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $17.25MM
  23. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE (Dolphins): $17.19MM
  24. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE (Cowboys): $17.11MM
  25. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $17.1MM

The Chiefs are working toward a second extension agreement with Jones, who is in the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract. A new deal with the star inside pass rusher would free up cap space, and DeAndre Hopkins is believed to be monitoring this situation.

As for Williams, the Giants had wanted to adjust his deal to reduce his eye-opening cap number. As of mid-June, however, no extension appeared to be on the team’s radar. The previous Giants regime signed off on the 2021 Williams extension (three years, $63MM). The Giants are also uninterested — for the time being, at least — in extending Jackson, who was also a Dave Gettleman-era defensive addition.

Donald is in the second season of a three-year, $95MM deal. The Rams gave Donald a landmark raise last year, convincing the all-everything D-tackle to squash retirement talk. A no-trade clause exists in Donald’s contract, which pays out its guarantees this year. Mosley remains tied to the $17MM-per-year deal the Mike Maccagnan regime authorized with the Jets. That contract, which reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2019, still has two seasons remaining on it due to the deal tolling after Mosley’s 2020 COVID-19 opt-out call. The Jets restructured the deal last year.

Washington now has two D-tackles tied to deals of at least $18MM per year. While Daron Payne‘s pact is worth more ($22.5MM AAV), higher cap hits on that deal will come down the road. Three years remain on Allen’s 2021 agreement. At safety, no team is spending like the Seahawks. In addition to the big-ticket deals authorized for Adams and Diggs, Seattle gave ex-Giants starter Julian Love a two-year, $6MM accord in March.

New Titans GM Ran Carthon attempted to give Byard a pay cut. That request did not go over well, but the standout safety remains with the team and has not requested a trade. Tennessee re-signed Landry on a five-year, $87.5MM deal in 2022; the veteran edge rusher has yet to play on that deal due to the ACL tear he sustained just before last season.

The 49ers can bring Bosa’s number down via an extension, which has long been on the team’s docket. As San Francisco extended Deebo Samuel just after training camp began last year, Bosa received back-burner treatment due to the fifth-year option. The star defensive end’s price undoubtedly went up during the waiting period, with the former No. 2 overall pick earning Defensive Player of the Year acclaim in the fourth year of his rookie contract.

Latest On S Kevin Byard, Titans

There’s been no shortage of awkwardness in the recent business relationship between All-Pro safety Kevin Byard and the Titans. Byard refused to take a pay cut that the team floated his way early in the offseason. While, in most situations, this would cause the relationship to deteriorate into an eventual split, things don’t seem to be headed in that direction, according to Josh Alper of NBC Sports.

Questions initially arose as Byard spent the offseason away from the Titans, with many thinking his absence was a result of bad blood following the failed request. Byard refuted that claim in an address to the media, saying that he had been in communication with his coaches and was working out according to a preexisting plan. His explanation and following comments seemed to indicate that he would not be pursuing a trade as a result of the pay-cut request.

In fact, Byard is more likely to continue working toward a deal that will keep him in Tennessee for the remainder of his career. Byard has certainly taken the high road in an awkward situation, showing the maturity to know that “you can’t be emotional in business,” a point he expanded on in an appearance on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast recorded two weeks ago. He, instead, found a way to “compartmentalize and keep (his) emotions out of it,” concluding that he thinks the two sides are “in a good place right now.”

When he initially received the request to take a pay cut, Byard had been expecting a contract extension discussion that would alleviate his cap hits in the near future while allowing him to remain in Nashville long-term. He stood his ground on his worth, stayed quiet about the negotiations, and has allowed the business side of things to run their course. He’s claimed that there are no “ill feelings” lingering from the situation and seems to be optimistic about finding a way forward.

Titans S Kevin Byard Not Requesting Trade After Denying Pay-Cut Request

Two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard made headlines back in March when he denied a request from the Titans to take a pay cut. Despite the obvious bumps this has the potential to cause in a working relationship, things appear to be copacetic between the two parties, according to Titan Insider.

Questions arose as Byard spent the offseason away from the Titans, with many thinking his absence was a result of bad blood following the failed request. Byard refuted that claim as he addressed the media for the first time since the request in question.

“I want to address OTAs and things like that,” Byard opened with. “I had been in communications with the coaching staff really early in the offseason, before, obviously, all this news and all this stuff came out. I was going to have my own plan and be able to train on my own…I’m very comfortable with the defense, and I’ve stayed in communication with the coaches this entire offseason about any new stuff that we had, any nuances that were coming out within the defense.”

He went on to say that there was never any misunderstanding between himself and the coaches on when he would be there, making good on his plans to show up for the team’s minicamp this past week after missing OTAs. As he declined to confirm or deny, it’s unclear whether he will be present for Tennessee’s final round of voluntary OTAs in the coming week.

About the pay-cut request, he explained that he allowed those conversations to take place between his agent and the organization, namely general manager Ran Carthon. He refused to communicate his emotional reaction but told the media that it was very important to him to eventually be back with the team as the leader he is.

“I had a conversation with you guys on clean-out day saying how much I love this organization and how this is my legacy,” Byard recalled. “No matter what happens, I’m just grateful for every opportunity I get.”

S Kevin Byard Balking At Titans’ Pay-Cut Request

Kevin Byard has been one of the NFL’s better safeties over the past several seasons, but the Titans have approached the All-Pro about taking a pay cut. This has not gone over well with Byard, as could be expected.

A seven-year starter in Tennessee, Byard has declined the organization’s request, Cameron Wolfe of tweets. He does not believe his play warrants a pay reduction,’s Adam Schefter adds (via Twitter). The sides have reached a crossroads on this matter, even though Byard has said he wants to finish his career in Tennessee.

Although the Titans have cut several veterans to start Ran Carthon‘s GM tenure, Byard has never missed a game as a pro and was a first-team All-Pro as recently as 2021. Pro Football Focus graded Byard as a top-10 safety in 2022. Byard is going into his age-30 season and tied to a $13.6MM base salary. Byard’s resume includes five seasons with at least four interceptions — including an eight-INT 2017, which preceded an unusual exchange in which then-NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders appeared unaware of the emerging safety’s NFL employment — and he has notched nine thefts over the past two years.

The Titans gave Byard a five-year extension back in 2019, ahead of his fourth season. The safety market has changed a bit since the former third-round pick agreed to that $14.1MM-per-year deal. At the time (July 2019), the contract made Byard the league’s highest-paid safety. But eight safeties now sit in front of the Middle Tennessee State alum. Two years remain on Byard’s extension.

Jon Robinson selected Byard during his first draft as GM, choosing the talented safety — who was not invited to the 2016 Combine — a round after taking Derrick Henry. That turned out to be a rather good day for the since-fired front office boss. Byard has joined Henry in becoming a two-time All-Pro. Given Byard’s performance level and durability, it would not have been surprising to see him angle for a raise — now that Derwin James has pushed safety money past $19MM per year. Instead, the prospect of Byard playing football with a non-Tennessee-based team for the first time since high school appears on the table.

Free agency this year has not produced a windfall for non-Jessie Bates safeties. Vonn Bell‘s $7.5MM-per-year pact represents the second-most money given to a back-line defender this year. This gap likely helped convince Harrison Smith to accept the Vikings’ pay-cut request. Minnesota chopped Smith’s salary from $14.7MM to $8MM this year. More money would await Byard in free agency, but it would also be interesting to see what teams would be willing to give up in trades. The deal includes a $13.6MM 2024 base salary as well.

Because the Titans have twice restructured his contract, Byard is on Tennessee’s cap sheet at $19.6MM this year. The team has already tacked on two void years to help for cap purposes in the past. This will be an early test for Carthon, whom the Titans hired to replace Robinson in January.