The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans are headed in opposite directions. While the Jags are riding a four-game winning streak, their division foes are seemingly ready to plan for the future, trading All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles Monday.
Throughout the offseason, Byard was consistently brought up as a potential trade target and the Titans decided to pull the trigger when they sent him to Philly in exchange for fifth and sixth-round picks in next year's draft, along with safety Terrell Edmunds, per multiple reports. Tennessee is currently 2-4 and holds last place in the AFC South. While it may be a bit too early to stick a fork on them, it's hard to see them catching up with the Jags, who have a three-game lead.
Earlier this year, the Titans hired Ran Carthon to fill their general manager vacancy. Although made changes to most position groups, he also kept several veterans the previous regime had brought, such as Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Maybe Tennessee thought they had enough that they had enough talent in place and only needed to reload to compete for the division crown.
Based on their current record, the strategy didn't pay off, so it makes sense that they'll start accumulating assets to make further changes in 2024. Byard is on a contract year, so the Titans might've wanted to get some compensation now instead of letting him walk and get nothing next year.
Add the fact that Byard felt disrespected when he was asked to take a pay cut in the offseason, and trading him seems like the best course of action for a Tennessee team that won't probably win many games in what's left of the 2023 season.
Trading Kevin Byard tips the scale in the Jacksonville Jaguars favor later in the 2023 season
Kevin Byard, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, has faced the Jacksonville Jaguars 14 times in his career and won 10 of them, registering three interceptions and eight passes defensed. He was arguably the heart and soul of their secondary. On top of that, he was one a respected locker room leader, so trading him leaves the Titans in less than ideal shape short term.
From the Jaguars' side of things, trading Kevin Byard improves their chances of beating their division rivals. Before the regular season began, the Titans seemed like a threat to compete with Jacksonville for the division crown but they're simply too flawed after eight games. Besides not having a clearcut answer at quarterback, their offensive line and wide receiver corps are flawed.
The Jags will play the Titans in Week 11 and later in the finale. It's hard to imagine Tennessee will be in better shape than they are right now. If Jacksonville plays the way they have and find more consistency on offense, sweeping their division rivals in back-to-back seasons seems to be reasonable.
The bottom line is a team effort but it's hard to see the Tennessee Titans beating the Jacksonville Jaguars this season without Kevin Byard.