Stuck in no man’s land, the Tennessee Titans desperately need to create some direction moving forward. No longer the clear-cut best team in the AFC South division, the Titans need to figure out what kind of team they want to be this next season, and that includes working the trade market this offseason.
With starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill currently holding the spot as the player with the highest base salary on the team ($27 million), thinking that he would be the likeliest trade candidate makes sense. But with a post-June 1st trade putting over $9 million of dead money added to the books both in 2023 and 2024 with a trade, a move feels unlikely.
Rumors of a potential Derrick Henry deal have been circulating this offseason as well, but the reality of that happening is unlikely. Even with the type of running back Henry is, the amount of tread on his tires, plus likely wanting some sort of new deal or guaranteed money, would likely turn teams away.
So that leaves the Titans with one likely option.
The writing may very well be on the wall for the Titans and safety Kevin Byard, especially with recent rumors about the team asking Byard to take a pay cut. Coming off another season of four-plus interceptions, Byard has a great point as to why he feels he is worth his $13.6 million base salary for the 2023 season.
Byard has gone on record about wanting to only play for one team in his entire career, and with the safety not even hitting 30 years old yet, he has a few more good years left to play. Plus, it isn’t like the Titans have Byard’s replacement currently on this team, so he certainly still has a role.
The Titans are tight on cap space this offseason, so it makes sense for new general manager Ran Carthon to look to squeeze every penny out of his current roster. But to head to Byard, who has played in every game of his seven-season career and racked up six years of 80+ tackles, seems to be a bit of a puzzling choice.
The safety group in NFL free agency has some solid options out there, headlined by Adrian Amos and John Johnson, but there is not a player out there that can do what Byard does for the Titans. And let’s not forget – if a player publicly wants to commit to a team for his entire career, it really is a bad look for a new GM to come in and look to run him out of town.
However, at the end of the day, moving Byard may just be the only logical outcome that benefits both sides.
With Byard understanding that the team wants to move on from him, getting a change of scenery may do him some good, even if it comes at the cost of not retiring with the same team he entered the league with.
For Tennessee, this part of the offseason (after the first wave of free-agent signees) is a great time to try and capitalize on some value. Teams like the New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, and Jacksonville Jaguars all could use a safety like Byard, even if an in-division trade seems very unlikely.
Will the Titans move on from Byard? Currently, it is too hard to tell, but the offseason has already produced signs of the team wanting to do so, so stay tuned.