All Is Well Between Kevin Byard And The Titans, Or Is It?

Kevin ByardNASHVILLE, Tenn. – All is well between the Titans and Kevin Byard, per Byard after the conclusion of the team’s minicamp on Thursday afternoon.

That’s great news -- if we believe it -- as any bitter feelings from the star safety toward the team as a result of an early offseason request that he take a pay cut could have an ill effect on the Titans that extends beyond the player and his relationship with the franchise.

If we don’t believe it, it’s a good public relations job. 

Either way, I’m puzzled by why a veteran player who’s a quality communicator was so willing to let what he says was incorrect thinking have such life among his fans, fans of the team and beyond for so long.

I get the “caring about things I can control” mentality. 

But this has been under Byard’s control from the start.

One tweet, saying something like “I’m not mad at the Titans, I had a long-term plan from right after the season ended to work out on my own,” in advance of OTAs would have taken total control of the story. (Mike Vrabel, too, had plenty of opportunity to offer that up and did not.)

Ryan Tannehill did something similar a year ago, letting his initial comments about mentoring Malik Willis sit from May 3 until he was in front of the press again on May 24, when he took the first 3:30 of his press session to clarify his stance. Why let things sit for three weeks when you feel so strongly you’ve been misunderstood?

I know the Titans are pros at not giving a shit but controlling the narrative has to be better for business than not controlling it, no?

The bell is rung. People think the Titans were at the very least indelicate in asking Byard to take the cut and that he stayed away as a result. (He's been a pretty regular attendee in the past, a routine that's gotten him two First-Team All-Pro selections.)

Him saying on June 8th that the request, initially reported on March 17 and confirmed by Ran Carthon on April 24, was business as usual and left no bad feelings will change the thinking of those who believe everything the Titans say, but it may not change the belief for those who consider things more closely.

And the willingness to let the thinking percolate for so long might lend it credence. I'm skeptical. I know you're shocked.

Also working out on one's own and attending 10 OTA practices are not mutually exclusive.

On the financial front... per spotrac, Byard is due a $13.6 million base salary this season that’s part of a $19.623 cap hit. In 2024 those numbers are $13.6 and $17.823.

“I don’t really want to get into my feelings or anything about that or emotions about… I’ll guarantee you I will not be the last player and I haven’t been the first player they’ve come to about a pay cut,” he said. “I let my agent and the organization or obviously Ran, the GM, handle those things.

"I felt it was very important for myself to come here and be a leader and be the person I’ve always been, making plays, communicating and things like that. And that’s who I’m going to always be. And I just felt that was very important for me.”

Kuharsky megaphoneThere was also a big financial incentive to be here this week: Missing the three-day mandatory minicamp results in fines over $93,000.

Did the pay-cut talk perhaps affect him on a psychological level?

Byard is the team’s senior-most player on defense, part of the 2016 draft along with Derrick Henry.

He said he communicated with the coaching staff very early in the offseason that he was going to have his own plan and train on his own in the offseason. He stayed in communication about any changes and new nuances with the defense.

He also said he’s going to continue to work that plan throughout this offseason, suggesting he won’t be at the concluding two days and three practices of OTAs next week.

I asked him outright if he’d be there.

In the end, this won't matter unless there are underlying bad feelings Byard can't get over.

I don't come out of minicamp certain there are not still some to be resolved.

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