The Philadelphia Eagles could be looking at their next big acquisition.
As proposed by Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson, the Eagles should be considered the “best” fit for one of the top trade candidates in Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard. The 29-year-old veteran is a two-time Pro Bowler (2017, 2021) and a two-time First-team All-Pro selection.
Monson explains why Byard is a “top” trade candidate and how he could fit in with the Eagles. He also mentions NFC East rival, the New York Giants, and the New England Patriots as potential destinations.
“Byard may be a casualty of a rebuild that the Tennessee Titans seem very close to pulling the trigger on,” says Monson. “He has been one of the best safeties in the league since he came into the NFL and is particularly adept in coverage. With a significant contract, he may not have a red-hot market, but if a deal can be done to minimize his cap hit to a new team, Byard could transform a secondary in an instant. He is still on the right side of 30 years old, though this will be the last offseason where that is true.”
Kevin Byard is Highest-Paid Free Safety in NFL
Monson mentions Byard’s “significant” contract, which is a very big one. Byard is not only the second-highest paid safety on the Titans, he’s the highest-paid free safety in the league. Byard is due to earn a $13.6 million base salary and $19.6 million cap hit for the 2023 season.
There’s little doubt about Byard’s ability. He’s coming off of a 108-tackle season in which he led the Titans and posted four interceptions for a defensive unit that merely ranked 14th in the NFL in points allowed.
According to Pro Football Focus, Byard posted a superb 79.5 defensive grade, 78.0 run defensive grade and an 81.0 grade in coverage last season. Among all safeties with at least 100 snaps last season, Byard ranked 11th in defensive grade, 16th in run defensive grade and sixth in coverage grade.
In other words, Byard isn’t slowing down and he’s justifying why he’s top-paid free safety in the league.
Why the Eagles Could Consider Kevin Byard
While that’s good for Byard’s appeal to potential teams, it’s not good for his prospects of landing on the Eagles. Byard is being mentioned as a potential option for Philadelphia due to the loss of their starting safeties from last season, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps. The biggest free agency loss for the Eagles was none other than Gardner-Johnson.
The 25-year-old was offered a contract from the Eagles at the beginning of free agency. However, he rejected the deal, believing his market to be bigger than it actually was. Philadelphia ended up moving on to other priorities, with Gardner-Johnson eventually settling on a one-year, $8 million deal with the Detroit Lions.
The Eagles’ projected starting safeties — at the current moment — are K’Von Wallace and Reed Blankenship, with former starting safety Justin Evans also being brought in as a free agent.
Bringing in Byard would make it a lot easier for Eagles fans to move on from the loss of Gardner-Johnson, who co-led the NFL in interceptions last season. Byard himself actually co-led the NFL in interceptions during the 2017 season.
The problem is his cap hit is way too high. Assuming Byard was brought in without the Titans absorbing any of his salary, he would immediately become Philadelphia’s second-highest paid player this season.
Giving up draft assets shouldn’t be too much of an issue in a potential deal for Byard. The Dallas Cowboys recently traded a fifth-round draft pick for five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. While Gilmore is three years older than Byard, it probably wouldn’t cost any more than a fourth-round draft pick to acquire Byard.
If the Titans agree to absorb a portion of Byard’s salary, the Eagles could trade for the veteran safety. But if that doesn’t end up being the case, there’s no chance of this trade happening.