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Kevin Byard trade indicates Titans will go with young QB

The Tennessee Titans are officially rebuilding. Why delay the inevitable?

Tennessee Titans v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans rebuild is officially on after the franchise dealt superstar safety Kevin Byard to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday in exchange for veteran safety Terrell Edmunds and two day-three picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. Heading towards a Week 8 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, the Titans are still unsure of who there starting quarterback will be. The Byard trade indicates the Titans are looking towards the future, which gives them all the more reason to start Will Levis against the Falcons.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel discussed the possibility with the media on Monday. In typical gamesmanship fashion, Vrabel refused to rule out Ryan Tannehill, who won’t practice on Tuesday, but continues to recover from yet another ankle injury. Vrabel peculiarly claimed that both Levis and Malik Willis would be involved against Atlanta if Tannehill is unable to suit up.

“Ryan [Tannehill] won’t practice today [Tuesday] and we’ll see where he is [health] at the end of the week,” Vrabel said. “If Ryan can’t play, I would anticipate both quarterbacks [Levis and Willis] playing,” Vrabel concluded.

Hopefully this is classic gamemanship from Vrabel, making the Falcons prepare for both quarterbacks. The Titans aren’t naive enough to think rotating quarterbacks on a series-by-series basis is the correct strategy. In fact, trading Byard in exchange for draft picks and additional salary cap flexibility indicates the Titans understand exactly where they’re at from a franchise-building perspective.

It also indicates they know it’s time to start the most promising young quarterback on their roster.

The likeliest outcome is Levis getting the start with a manufactured package for Willis. The Titans may want to take advantage of Willis’ athletic ability. Getting Willis outside the pocket could place stress on Atlanta’s linebackers and secondary.