The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans completed a major move Monday, just eight days before the NFL trade deadline.
The Eagles acquired safety Kevin Byard in exchange for safety Terrell Edmunds along with 2024 fifth- and sixth-round draft picks.
Why they made the trade
The Eagles wanted to improve their 18th-ranked pass defense and targeted one of the most decorated safeties of the past decade. General manager Howie Roseman has been consistently aggressive in his pursuit to improve the roster with high-caliber players, and Byard is just the latest example.
Meanwhile, the Titans are apparently signaling their intention to be sellers at the deadline, although the timing is curious. They’re 2-4, coming off their bye week and could conceivably improve enough to make a run against the Falcons, Steelers and Buccaneers before visiting the AFC South-leading Jaguars (5-2).
However, the Titans are also 2-11 in their past 13 regular-season games, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill is dealing with another ankle injury. First-year general manager Ran Carthon has to be thinking more about the long term than the likelihood, or lack thereof, of making a marked turnaround in the coming weeks.
Kevin Byard: 92.3 coverage grade since 2020
Highest among ALL DBs 🥇
The Eagles are STACKED 👀 pic.twitter.com/qV1I0KQ4NB
— PFF (@PFF) October 23, 2023
Trade grade (Eagles): A
The Eagles followed up a convincing victory against the Dolphins with an aggressive trade to further their standing as one of the NFC’s powerhouses.
They needed help on the back end of the defense and are only on the hook for about $2.4 million of Byard’s salary this season. He’s set to earn $14.1 million in 2024, which is the final year of his contract, but that could be restructured if necessary.
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The 30-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and 2021, and he has 27 career interceptions. He was one of three players in the league last season with at least 100 tackles and four interceptions, and he has tallied at least four interceptions in five of his past six seasons. Those ball-hawking skills will be on display playing behind the Eagles’ intense pass rush.
If the Eagles are going to get where they’re trying to go in the postseason, they’ll likely have to get through NFC powers San Francisco and Dallas, both of which can feature explosive passing offenses. And in the event the Eagles earn a Super Bowl rematch with the Chiefs or have to take on another one of the AFC’s best quarterbacks, a piece like Byard can only improve their chances.
👀 Just got better let’s work @KevinByard yes sir!!!
— Darius Slay (@bigplay24slay) October 23, 2023
Byard is also a Philly native, which carries weight in that organization. This past February at the Super Bowl, Roseman cited outside linebacker Haason Reddick’s Philadelphia roots (from his time at Temple) among the reasons worth acquiring him. It’s beneficial, Roseman noted, for these star-caliber athletes to understand the pressure that comes with playing for such a passionate fan base.
Of course, the bigger picture is the Eagles got better without giving up much to do so.
Trade grade (Titans): C
It’s not in Mike Vrabel’s DNA to waive the white flag, so this can’t be an easy day for the head coach who was in Foxboro over the weekend for his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Byard has been a Titans captain for the past five seasons and breaks down the team before every game, so the Titans just lost one of the most important members of their organization.
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However, Byard is on the backside of his career, and a trade now at least helps the Titans avoid a potentially awkward split in the offseason due to an impending decision with his contract. It’s plausible the Titans already knew they couldn’t commit to that 2024 cap figure and that Byard would be unlikely to lower it for a team that appears heading toward a rebuild.
The Byard trade has coaches and executives from other teams wondering if the Titans are going into fire sale mode over the next week.
If that’s the case, perhaps more moves are to come as they potentially try to set themselves up for what’s shaping up to be an exciting draft class highlighted by two potential franchise quarterbacks (Caleb Williams and Drake Maye) and a generational receiver prospect (Marvin Harrison Jr.).
— Kevin Byard (@KevinByard) October 23, 2023
(Photo: Wesley Hitt / Getty Images)
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