The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Thursday that the club has signed free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“Tyrann’s a player we’ve had our eyes on for a while now, and we’re excited about him joining our team,” Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach said. “He’s versatile and tough, with a lot of playmaking ability. He’ll be a great addition to our secondary.”
“Brett and his staff did a tremendous job working to get Tyrann here in Kansas City,” Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid said. “He’s a talented player and very physical on the football field. We are excited to get started working with him this offseason.”
Mathieu (5-9, 190) has played in 82 games (73 starts) in six NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17) and Houston Texans (2018). His career numbers include 392 tackles (348 solo), 33 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has tallied 13 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and 49 passes defensed. Mathieu was named to the Pro Bowl and earned first-team all-pro honors following the 2015 season when he notched 89 tackles (80 solo), 1.0 sack, 17 passes defensed, one forced fumble and five interceptions.
Nicknamed “Honey Badger,” Mathieu originally entered the NFL as a third-round selection (69th overall) of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played collegiately at LSU. The New Orleans, Louisiana, native, prepped at St. Augustine High School.
In a recent interview with Sirius XM radio, safety Tyrann Mathieu spoke about leaving the Houston Texans in free agency and joining the Kansas City Chiefs.
For Mathieu, the decision-making process came down to how he would be used on the field, and apparently the veteran liked what he heard from Andy Reid and his staff.
“When Kansas City called, it was a great deal,” said Mathieu. “I felt like it was one I really couldn’t turn down. Obviously they have a great program. Those guys were in the championship game last year. They got a lot of great pieces on our team, and so talking with Coach Reid and talking with Spags [about] their plan for me and how they’re going to use me really sold me on those guys.”
Spags refers to Steve Spagnuolo, the new defensive coordinator for the Chiefs hired this offseason to replace Bob Sutton, who had been in place for six seasons. Spagnuolo’s arrival signaled a complete overhaul for the defense, a plan that caused the Chiefs to release Justin Houston, trade Dee Ford, cut Eric Berry and sever ties with several other former defenders.
The team’s vision for Mathieu likely rivals their long-term hopes for Eric Berry these last two seasons as the dynamic, versatile playmaker in the secondary they’ve been missing. Unfortunately, Berry has dealt with numerous injuries and has missed the bulk of the last two years.
Earl Thomas signed with the Baltimore Ravens on a massive four-year deal for $55 million later on in free agency, which was widely considered a great move by the Ravens.
Fast forward a couple days, and news came out during Thomas’ introductory interview with that Baltimore Ravens that he had been expecting to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs on a one or two-year deal before the Ravens came in with the huge offer.
This led to conversations among Chiefs fans about when this deal was in place, and if Kansas City saw Thomas instead of Tyrann Mathieu or in addition to Tyrann Mathieu.
Then there was Peter King’s article, “Football Morning in America,” Monday morning, which had this nugget:
Earl Thomas was prepared, with regrets, to accept a one-year guaranteed contract worth $12 million, with $1 million in likely-to-be-earned incentives, with an undisclosed team Wednesday morning. That team, I am told, was sure it had Thomas, whose market had never materialized the way safety markets developed for Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu and Adrian Amos. Then the Ravens swooped in, knowing they had to overpay to break up the other deal. “The Ravens were never in the picture,” Thomas told me Thursday. “I was shocked. I was blessed.” In the span of two hours and 10 minutes, the Ravens and Thomas’ agents worked out a four-year, $55-million deal. Moral of the story: It only takes one. And it doesn’t take long.
Although it is not confirmed that the Kansas City Chiefs were that “undisclosed team” listed at the top, coming on the heels of Thomas claiming he thought he was going to be a Chief, it’s a short jump to make.
The Chiefs were apparently hours away from having both Tyrann Mathieu and Earl Thomas.
It’s a fairly sure thing that Tyrann Mathieu won’t be utilized in one specific role based upon how everyone in the organization has talked about him up to this point.
It’s also an easy dot to connect that there were plans to play him down in the box had a few more free agency moves fell into place.
Thinking about those happenings, past performance numbers and quotes that I am certainly reading far too into given this time of year, if I were to pick one position for Mathieu to play most of his snaps at, it would be as a box or strong safety.
Mathieu’s ability to see the hole field from up close, athleticism to cover sideline to sideline, and playmaking ability when near the LoS is too much to ignore. Mathieu is an aggressive player who sounds like he wants to play that way moving forward, and the Chiefs should ultimately allow him to do so.