Tyrann Mathieu is coming home with the mission of bringing a Super Bowl to the Big Easy.
According to multiple sources, Honey Badger has agreed to a 3-year, $33M deal ($18M guaranteed) with the New Orleans Saints, returning him to Louisiana, his hometown.
Mathieu garnered interest from multiple teams this offseason and took his time and due diligence to make sure he found the best home for himself and his family.
Ultimately, the best home for him and his new chapter of football is his actual home state of Louisiana where he was born and raised and played football. He’s one of the greatest LSU alumni to come out of the Bayou State.
It all started when Mathieu and the Kansas City Chiefs, a team he called home for 3 years, parted ways when they couldn’t come to a contract agreement. The Chiefs never offered Mathieu a contract or explanation as to why they let the three-time All-Pro and Pro-Bowl secondary stalker walk.
Tyrann loved Kansas City and was an integral part of their 2019-20 Super Bowl Championship, and according to Mathieu himself, he wanted to stay a Chief and was willing to sign a contract mirroring that of new Chiefs safety Justin Reid, who became Mathieu’s replacement and signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal. Last month he described the situation to the Kansas City Star newspaper:
“To be honest, if they would’ve offered me Justin Reid’s deal, obviously I would’ve tried to negotiate, but if that’s where they drew their line in the sand, I probably would’ve took it. I probably would’ve took it.”
The Chiefs missed out and the Saints lucked up, because Mathieu attracted interest from several teams, including the Saints, Eagles, Cowboys, Colts, Rams. Tyrann decided to choose the Saints.
A Rebuild Or Title Team?: Wholesale Makeover
The Saints are in a transitional phase, as they are just two years removed from the retirement of Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees and are trying to find his heir apparent. The franchise also replaced retired HC Sean Payton with Dennis Allen, as well as making some roster changes.
It seems very unlikely the disgruntled and unhealthy Michael Thomas will be catching passes for the Saints much longer, given how quickly receivers have moved around in the NFL. Which is why the Saints drafted Ohio State star Chris Olave to be Thomas’ replacement.
Jameis Winston is expected to reassume the starting quarterback position that he lost when he went down with a season-ending injury. Alvin Kamara’s legal issues are serious and there’s no guarantee he will be around to fulfill his contractual obligations to the team. That would be a huge loss as well.
They did, however, gain a savvy championship veteran to further upgrade a secondary that was solid, ranking 14th in passing yards allowed. Mathieu bolsters a defense that already features stars such as Cam Jordan, and Marcus Lattimore.
With all these transactions taking place throughout this offseason, it made a lot of sense to bring in a player like Honey Badger with experience, a connection to the fan base beyond football, and energy.
Though the Saints are not Super Bowl contenders just yet, they are in a division with only one team to beat (Buccaneers), whom they are 7-3 against in the past 10 games.
Many fans and critics believe one of the main reasons Kansas City let Mathieu walk was because he is approaching 30, and most football players see a significant dropoff in their production after 30.
But if last year was an indicator of Mathieu’s status, he shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon. Mathieu finished last season with three interceptions, six passes defended, 76 combined tackles, and a sack to top it off.
This resulted in him getting selected to a Pro Bowl last season and helped the Chiefs make the AFC Championship Game, which they eventually lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.
ESPN reports, “Mathieu is tied for fifth in the league with 13 interceptions over the past three seasons, including three in 2021 — with one returned for a touchdown.”
In his remarkable career, Honey Badger, a third-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, has 76 passes defended, 610 tackles and 10 sacks in nine seasons.
Saints Get One Of The Best
One of the best safeties in the game is ready to help the Saints rediscover their championship culture. More than anything, he’s probably excited to be home and itching to play his former team.