Big decisions lie ahead of Titans GM Jon Robinson this summer. He has a number of high profile players entering the final year of their contract.
Marcus Mariota, of course, is the most high profile, but we all know no deal is coming until after the season to see how he plays and if he can stay healthy.
Derrick Henry, Logan Ryan, Austin Johnson, Ben Jones and Jack Conklin also have expiring deals with a small chance of extension this summer.
The one player who needs a new deal and sooner rather than later is safety Kevin Byard. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract and while he is slated to make over $2-million this season that is a drop in the bucket compared to what he will command.
Top 5 safety contracts start at $12-million a season and Byard’s agent has to have something around that number as the floor for negotiations after 11 interceptions in two years and an All-Pro season in year two when he picked off 7 passes.
Byard is a pro’s pro and has always put the work and the game first and that does not appear to be changing now.
We saw Taylor Lewan stay away last year until he got a new deal. That is not an unusual or even a selfish tactic. It is business and it is smart because hurt players generally do not get paid.
Still, Byard does not even hint at that as a possibility, “You know I just come to work every single day and I really don’t care about it honestly. Like I say, I hired an agent and that’s what I got him working on, things like that. Other than that, I don’t talk about it, I just talk ball with the guys and that’s it.”
Even if the Titans do not get a new deal done with Byard by the time the season gets here it is not the end of the world or mean he will hit the open market. The Titans could still use the franchise tag on him and get him for a very similar price. It would be a one-year deal worth the average of the top 5 safeties in the NFL. That would come out to over $13-million a season. So, putting the tag on Byard would be a reasonable alternative while they continue to try to work out a long term deal.
Will Byard get a new deal this summer? I do not know, but I do not think it will be a tough deal if it is one the Titans want to get done.