Tennessee Titans All-Pro Safety Kevin Byard has decided to skip the team’s organized team activities, raising eyebrows and fueling speculation about his future with the franchise.
Byard’s skipping OTAs is particularly noteworthy given the turbulent offseason he and the Titans have experienced. Head coach Mike Vrabel confirmed his absence.
Mike Vrabel on Byard, Fulton. #Titans pic.twitter.com/y2WloTqcm1
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) May 23, 2023
New Titans General Manager Ran Carthon recently confirmed that the team had approached Byard with a request to take a pay cut. Unsurprisingly, Byard declined the proposal.
The contract-related standoff led to rumors of a potential trade request or release, however, Carthon promptly dismissed those rumors, attempting to quell the speculation surrounding the star safety.
While Mike Vrabel downplayed Byard’s absence by highlighting a recent productive conversation between the two, questions remain regarding the true reason behind the standout player’s decision to stay away from OTAs.
Vrabel stated that Byard would join the team when the timing is right. Byard is currently slated to earn a base salary of $13.6 million this season, with a similar amount set for 2024, according to Spotrac.
Kevin Byard holds a significant role within the Titans’ defensive unit and is widely regarded as one of Tennessee’s most important defensive players.
The 29-year-old safety has consistently demonstrated his prowess on the field since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Over the course of his career, Byard has earned two First-Team All-Pro selections, along with two Pro Bowl nods.
His impressive resume boasts 27 interceptions, including a career-high eight in 2017. Byard has also recorded at least four interceptions in a single season on five occasions. In addition to his knack for creating turnovers, he has amassed 627 tackles, four sacks, and 63 passes defended in his 114-game career.
While current participation in OTAs is voluntary, Byard’s absence stands out, particularly since the majority of players have attended these offseason sessions. This raises further speculation about the underlying issues between Byard and the Titans organization.
Despite the contract disputes and uncertainties surrounding his future, Byard has consistently expressed his desire to remain with the Titans throughout his career. However, with the ball now in the Titans’ court, it remains to be seen how the team will navigate the situation and determine the future of their star safety.
The Titans face the task of deciding whether to retain Byard, part ways through a trade, or potentially cut him as a salary dump. Designating Byard as a post-June cut could clear $14 million in cap space, albeit with $5.5 million in dead money.
With training camp on the horizon, the Titans will need to address the Byard situation promptly to ensure stability and continuity within their defensive unit.