The Tennessee Titans surely want to find a way to keep pass rusher Harold Landry around, and safety Kevin Byard may just have a solution.
Speaking to reporters during the team’s end-of-season media availability, Byard said he’d be willing to take one for the team, so to speak, to ensure Tennessee kept its best pass rusher around long term.
“We understand that we are a championship defense,” Byard said. “We have the pieces and we have to do everything possible to try and keep these guys back. Obviously, I’m not [GM] Jon [Robinson], I don’t do anything about contracts, but even just talking to Harold [Landry], I hope and pray that we can get him back and keep that front four together because, I mean, nine sacks in the playoffs.
“… If I’ve got to do another restructure on my deal like I did with Clowney, I’ll do that to fit Harold in there.”
Byard is no stranger to contract restructuring to make room for a teammate. He did that very thing in 2020 to free up $6.1 million so the Titans could sign edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
To be clear, Byard wouldn’t be taking a pay cut. Should he restructure again, he would simply be shifting his cap hit another year down the road similar to what Ryan Tannehill did this year to make room for Julio Jones. Tannehill’s 2022 base salary is $29 million but his cap hit is $38.6 million due to his 2021 restructure.
Landry is likely to command a big-money deal following his breakout 2021 season, where he set new career highs with 12 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 75 tackles, 22 QB hits, 49 QB pressures and 21 QB hurries.
He led the Titans and ranked 10th in the NFL in sacks, led the league in QB hurries and ranked seventh in pressures. In fact, Landry has the seventh-most pressures since 2019 (165) among all edge rushers.
The 25-year-old former second-round pick’s next contract is expected to be a doozy, and the question looming is can Tennessee afford to re-sign him?
Landry’s current market value is somewhere in the $17 million per season range. Contract comparables for the star edge rusher lie somewhere between Bud Dupree (five years, $82.5 million), Shaq Barrett (four years, $68 million) and Matthew Judon (four years, $54.5 million).
The Titans could opt to franchise tag Landry, but they’d then be on the hook for a one-year, $18.5 million deal. If he hits the open market, Landry could command a four-year, $68 million deal, according to Spotract, or a four-year, $60 million deal, estimated by Pro Football Focus.
However, according to Over the Cap, Tennessee is currently projected to be a good $200,000 over next year’s $208.2 million salary cap. So, what’s Jon Robinson to do?
While the Titans would be flat out fools to not make every effort to keep Landry in Tennessee, Robinson will certainly have to pull off some cap gymnastics to make it happen.
Tennessee also has several other free agents needing attention as well, including Ben Jones, D’Onta Foreman, Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans, Anthony Firkser, Chester Rogers and Ola Adeniyi.
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