Eagles hit a home run in their trade for Safety Kevin Byard

FILE – Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Oct. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis. The Tennessee Titans on Monday, Oct. 23, traded two-time All-Pro safety Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pair of draft picks and safety Terrell Edmunds, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger, File)

After pulling together an impressive effort against the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles will be getting some help in a big way. On Monday, Philly acquired All-Pro Safety Kevin Byard from the Tennessee Titans for a 2024 5th-round pick, a 2024 6th-round pick, and Safety Terrell Edmunds.

Byard is an incredible piece to have for Sean Desai. Desai now gets the Swiss Army knife kind of weapon that the defensive coordinators before him had. Jim Schwartz had Malcolm Jenkins, Jonathan Gannon had C.J. Gardner-Johnson and now Sean Desai has Kevin Byard.

Byard has been ranked as PFF’s number-one safety over the last two seasons. At 30 years old it would be dishonorable to say that his best years are behind him. I believe that Byard is still in his prime and can even be a great leader on this Eagles’ defense for at least the next two seasons.

The Eagles new ironman

FILE – Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) makes an interception on a pass to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool, left, during the second half of an NFL football game Dec. 19, 2021, in Pittsburgh. Byard emerged as one of the top safeties when he led the league with eight interceptions as a second-year player in 2017 and has maintained a high level ever since.(AP Photo/Don Wright, File)

The more impressive thing about Byard is his availability. He’s now played in 111 consecutive games. For the former Titans Safety has never missed a game in his career which bodes well for the Eagles as they have had trouble keeping their current safeties healthy.  

Another big plus of this addition is his versatility. Looking at his snap totals, it’s safe to say that Byard’s presence now covers two needs that the Eagles have. One being at Safety and the other being at the slot corner position. In 2023, Byard has taken 87 snaps at the slot position, 171 snaps at the free safety position, and 129 snaps as a box safety. In 2022, he finished the season totaling 201 snaps on the slot, 506 at free safety, and 393 as a box safety.

He’s effective in either position as well. He’s never allowed more than 46 completions in a season and has a total of 27 interceptions since 2017. Which is the highest among safeties and is only 2 less than Xavien Howard who has 29 interceptions in that span.

There’s no questioning or worries about how Sean Desai will use Byard in this Eagles defense. The secondary has struggled mightily in the safety position. As seen on Sunday night when the team gave up those big conversions on those long 3rd downs. Terrell Edmunds was a big culprit in those mishaps and was even seen out of position on that Tyreek Hill touchdown and now he’s been shipped off to Tennessee by the Eagles. 

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., left, is tackled by Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard, right, and cornerback Roger McCreary, behind, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

You won’t get that out of Kevin Byard who has shown that he can change the game in the blink of an eye. He’ll be lined up with the best cornerback tandem that he’s ever played with in Darius Slay and James Bradberry but now with Byard there, I wonder how much more effective those two will be.

One would think that there would be a huge sense of confidence in the corners with this updated safety group. Sydney Brown showed great speed and awareness at times in his first start and everyone knows how great Reed Blankenship has been for this unit. The sky is the limit for this defense now that they have one of the best safeties in the league wearing their color.

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger, File