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Is This The End Of the Road For This Two-Time All-Pro?

The Philadelphia Eagles released safety Kevin Byard ahead of free agency, possibly bringing his career to an end.
Kevin Byard

When the Philadelphia Eagles first acquired Kevin Byard at the 2023 trade deadline, most analysts across the league believed that he was the final piece for a Super Bowl-caliber defense. That didn’t work out, as the Eagles crashed and burned down the stretch, losing five of their last six before going one-and-done in a short-lived postseason run. Byard did not play well during his brief tenure with the Eagles, and he will not have a chance to redeem himself in 2024. The team recently released the two-time All-Pro, clearing up $13.7 million in cap space ahead of free agency.

Philadelphia Eagles Release Kevin Byard – Will Anybody Sign Him?

Kevin Byard did not work out for the Philadelphia Eagles, and now that he’s entering his age-31 season, it may be safe to wonder if the one-time star safety is at the end of the road. While the former third-round pick is definitely not the player he once was, there are reasons to believe he might still have something left in his tank.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kevin Byard finished the season as the 23rd-best safety out of 95 eligible players. PFF grades aren’t everything, but the film-based metric has a relatively strong correlation with future success. Perhaps Byard was just a bad fit under defensive coordinator Sean Desai and senior defensive assistant Matt Patricia. For what it’s worth, neither coach will return to the Eagles in 2024.

With free agency right around the corner, Kevin Byard has a chance to cash in on a new contract. While he probably won’t break the bank, he should have some interest from the following five teams.

Best Team Fits

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have the young core required to make another postseason run in 2023, but they need a few veterans if they want to be a true Super Bowl contender. Safety is one of the Packers biggest draft needs, and they could mitigate that need by signing Kevin Byard. Even if he’s not the player he once was, he should be an upgrade on free agent Darnell Savage.

Atlanta Falcons

Kevin Byard might no longer be a great player, but he won’t need to be if he shares the field with Jessie Bates. Bates is arguably the best safety in the game and is capable of doing just about everything at a high level. Atlanta’s biggest problem is they don’t have another safety capable of putting up adequate production alongside him. Byard should be able to thrive in a limited role and these two should combine to make the middle of the field an area opposing teams try to avoid.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are a lot like the Falcons in that they have one great safety in Jordan Battle and nobody else of note. When you share a division with Lamar Jackson and also have to worry about Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs, you need to find as many reliable defensive backs as humanly possible. Kevin Byard can be a great complementary piece in the secondary and should be a smart signing for a team that is likely entering their last season to win a Super Bowl with their current core.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints released Marcus Maye, opening up a spot in their secondary. The Saints had to make this move due to cap concerns, but Maye did not play well last year. If New Orleans signs Kevin Byard, they could upgrade the spot opposite Tyrann Mathieu while saving some much-needed salary cap space.

Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh believes in building around the run game, both on offense and defense, and this makes Kevin Byard a great fit for his system. Byard finished the 2023 season with an 83.6 run defense grade and should be able to immediately step in, play the box, and provide some much-needed rush support for a defense that struggled to stop ground attacks under former head coach Brandon Staley.

Main Photo: Kim Klement Neitzel – USA Today Sports


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