Eagles’ $14.2 Million Former All-Pro Identified as Top Cap Casualty Candidate - Sport News

Eagles’ $14.2 Million Former All-Pro Identified as Top Cap Casualty Candidate

As the Philadelphia Eagles aim to rebuild the defense in 2024, one of the team’s most recent acquisitions in 2023 could be on the chopping block.

Safety Kevin Byard, who arrived in Philadelphia prior to the trade deadline in 2023, was named a top candidate to be released as a cap casualty by Spotrac.

Eagles

Byard was a bit of a disappointment during his 10 games in an Eagles uniform, producing 75 total tackles with just one interception and three pass breakups. Releasing Byard would create $13.5 million in additional spending flexibility for general manager Howie Roseman this offseason.

The Eagles are currently projected to have approximately $16.1 million in effective cap space, ahead of the new league year beginning on March 13, but with some difficult decisions to make in terms of high-priced veterans on the roster and myriad holes to fill, Roseman may view additional cap space as more valuable to Philadelphia’s future than retaining Byard.

Given the arrival of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Eagles might also view moving on from Byard as an opportunity to add a safety who has either previously played in Fangio’s system, or a younger and more affordable option during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Philadelphia originally acquired Byard from the Tennessee Titans, in exchange for safety Terrell Edmunds, as well as a fifth-round and sixth-round pick in the NFL Draft.

Kevin Byard’s Tenure in Philadelphia Came at a Tumultuous Time for Eagles
If Byard’s tenure with the Eagles winds up being just 10 games, it will likely be viewed as a disappointment.

In addition to Byard’s limited production, the Eagles collapsed down the stretch of the 2023 campaign, losing five of six to close out the regular season before getting thumped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-9 in the NFC Wild Card round.

Byard says there is a distinct difference between playing in Philadelphia from Tennessee.

“I think playing for this city, you have to really operate in a different way,” Byard told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For example, I come from Tennessee, which is obviously a smaller market, I feel like it was very easy to keep in-house things in-house.

“It’s very different over here. I feel like there’s leaks everywhere … it can be very divisive in a way. It can kind of force players or whoever it may be to almost protect yourself.”

In addition to suffering through a collapse on the field, the second half of the Eagles’ season also saw locker-room turmoil surrounding wide receiver A.J. Brown’s reported feud with the coaching staff, a change in defensive coordinator from Sean DeSai to Matt Patricia, and myriad injuries down the stretch.

With or without Byard, the Eagles are hoping that the 2024 campaign will play out significantly differently than last season.

Who are the top free-agent safety possibilities?
It would make sense for Roseman and the Eagles to prioritize overhauling a secondary that was marred by missed tackles while playing a starring role in Philadelphia’s woefully disappointing finish to last season.

If the Eagles opt to move on from Byard, there are several marquee free agents set to hit the open market.

Eddie Jackson was released by the Chicago Bears, who previously played in Fangio’s defense. At age 30, Jackson is coming off a 2023 campaign that saw him produce 37 total tackles with one interception, in 12 games.

Meanwhile, Budda Baker has consistently been among the more productive players at the position and logged 87 total tackles last season.

Likewise, if the Green Bay Packers opt not to re-sign Darnell Savage, the 26-year-old still has upside and is coming off a season in which he seemed to reach new heights down the stretch, including returning an interception for a touchdown in a blowout victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card.

Roseman and the Eagles will need to figure out if any of the impending free-agent safeties or incoming rookies offer more upside than Byard does when deciding on how to move forward at the position.

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