Titans head coach Mike Vrabel ran into safety Kevin Byard at the golf course Sunday. Vrabel, though, hasn’t seen Byard this week.
Byard and cornerback Kristian Fulton are not participating in the team’s organized team activities.
Vrabel said he expects Byard will show up “at some point” and is unconcerned about his absence.
“There’s been years where KB hasn’t been here,” Vrabel said, via video from Jim Wyatt of the team website. “I know KB’s working hard, and we’re staying in contact with him, and [safeties coach Scott Booker] meets with him on Zoom and gets the installation. I’m not concerned KB and his level of fitness and commitment. That’s not a concern. He has a family, and he’s an established player. We would want them all here, but it’s voluntary. There were years where I didn’t go to New England. You communicate, and he’s communicated.
“I’m very, very confident when KB comes back, he’ll be in shape and he’ll be ready to go and he’ll know what to do, and he’ll be the same great teammate he always is.”
Titans General Manager Ran Carthon confirmed the Titans asked Byard to take a pay cut. He declined.
Byard is set to make $13.6 million this year, and he has a base salary of $13.6 million in 2024 as well. The Titans could clear $14.1 million in cap space by releasing Byard with a post-June 1 designation, but the team has given no indication it plans to move on without him.
In fact, the Titans spoke glowingly of Byard and the importance of his leadership on their defense.
“Obviously, he’s a huge part of what we do here,” defensive coordinator Shane Bowen said. “He’s been our leader, along with Jeff [Simmons], Harold [Landry], some of these guys have played a ton of snaps for us. They’re reliable. They’re dependable in all aspects of what it takes to play this game at a high level.
“Again, it’s a business. We all understand that. Everybody has a different about how they train in the offseason. It’s no secret. Some guys do things differently. Some guys are here. Some guys aren’t. It’s not just Kevin. He’s a big part of what we do. I will say I think for the young guys, they miss him. But I have zero, zero doubt that Kevin Byard is . . . going to be ready to go when he gets here. He works his butt off. He does everything the right way, and he’s a pro’s pro.”
Byard earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2021, and he made 108 tackles, four interceptions and six passes defensed in 2022.