He is the biggest home run of the Jon Robinson era, but his time with the Titans could be running out.
Titans safety Kevin Byard is entering the final year of his 4-year rookie deal and if the Titans want to keep him they have to be prepared to pay and pay handsomely.
Byard has become a top-five safety in the NFL earning All-Pro honors in 2017 while picking off 12 passes over the last two seasons. His reputation in the NFL is a “top 5” safety and that means top five money which is over $10-million a year.
“I know both sides are talking and things like that,” Byard said Tuesday at the Titans mandatory mini-camp. Byard added, “I think as of right now I let my agent handle all of that stuff, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to be a leader for this team. I think by doing that I’ve been doing everything they’ve asked me to do as far as come here, be a leader, show up and practice every single day. I’m hoping that the team rewards, me or my teammates anything like that when you do what you’re supposed to do.”
Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu are the two highest paid safeties in the game at $14-million a season. Lemarcus Joyner and Harrison Smith are fifth and sixth making $10.25-million and $10.5-million a year. Byard should fall somewhere in between and the Titans are not doing or saying anything to diminish his value.
Tuesday head coach Mike Vrabel talked about Byard increasing his leadership roll on the team and how important his versatility and ability to play a number of different spots, including special teams, is invaluable to the organization.
Robinson cannot afford to let Byard get away. He took him in the third round of the 2016 draft and he has easily been his best pick outpacing 1st rounders like Adoree Jackson, Corey Davis, Jack Conklin and Rashaan Evans. He has also been one of the Titans few game changers producing 14 turnovers in the last two seasons.
Byard says he is not counting on a new deal getting done before Training Camp begins in July, but it is becoming a bigger and bigger topic that is going to be harder and harder for Byard and the Titans to avoid.