Vrabel says trading All-Pro safety Kevin Byard tough business decision Titans had to make

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans wanted to compete this season, and coach Mike Vrabel said Tuesday winning remains their top focus.

Trading defensive captain and two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard may jolt the locker room enough to help turn around a 2-4 start. The deal also signals the Titans are rebuilding.

Vrabel called Monday's trade of Byard “a tough business decision” for him and first-year general manager Ran Carthon.

But the Titans are last in the AFC South and only the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos (2-5) have worse records in the AFC. Tennessee currently would draft ninth overall.

“Ran and I are trying to continue to grow the team and continue to do what we think is going to be best now and in the long run to add to our roster, to strengthen our roster,” Vrabel said. “And this was an opportunity to do that.”

The first pick in the third round of 2016, Byard had been Tennessee's longest-tenured player with the team on defense.

The Titans sent Byard to Philadelphia where he was born and still has family and to a team that won the NFC last season. The Eagles (6-1) are tied with reigning Super Bowl champ Kansas City for the NFL's best record.

Vrabel knows they will be second-guessed. The Titans got Terrell Edmunds along with two 2024 draft picks, giving them seven overall. Tennessee currently doesn't have a selection in the third round after trading up in April to draft quarterback Will Levis at No. 33 overall.

“We’re trying to look at what draft capital we have and try to come up with a solution for it,” Vrabel said.

The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 31, and the Titans are taking calls.

Defensive lineman Denico Autry leads Tennessee with four sacks and is tied for the team lead with four tackles for loss in the final year of his contract. Derrick Henry also is in the final year of his contract as a two-time NFL rushing champ and the league's eighth man to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season.

Then there's also three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee's leading receiver in catches and yards.

“I don’t know if there’s anything imminent,” Vrabel said. “A lot of people talk at this time of the year and before the draft and before the trade deadline.”

The Titans host Atlanta (4-3) on Sunday before a three-game road swing.

Henry now is the Titans' longest-tenured player with the team in his eighth season. Asked about potential trades, Henry said the NFL is a business and that he's focused on trying to win games until told differently.

"My goal is still to win, do my job the best way I can to help us win, and that's what I'm going to do," Henry said.

The Titans have lost 11 of their past 13 games going back to last season with too many draft pick misses and bad free agent signings by the previous general manager taking a toll.

A key injury also could force their hand to test a young quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill couldn't finish the loss to Baltimore in London with a sprained right ankle before the bye. Vrabel said Tannehill wouldn't practice Tuesday and that second-year quarterback Malik Willis and Levis would play against Atlanta if the veteran can't.

Henry said his teammates simply need to step up with 11 games left, including five inside the AFC South.

“I think guys want to win, and that should be the main focus,” Henry said. “Getting better and improving.”

NOTES: Vrabel said Nicholas Petit-Frere will be the left tackle after replacing free agent signee Andre Dillard midway through the previous game. WR Treylon Burks, who has missed three straight games with an injured left knee, practiced all last week.


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