The Saints did not select a safety during the 2022 draft, and as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports, they are expected to make an “aggressive push” to sign free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu. The club met with Mathieu — a New Orleans native and former LSU Tiger — in early April but elected to wait until after the draft to explore a contract in earnest.
New Orleans has already added Marcus Maye and Daniel Sorensen in free agency, but given Sorensen’s coverage limitations and Maye’s season-ending Achilles tear in 2021, there is still room for a player of Mathieu’s caliber. That is especially true in light of Marcus Williams‘ free agent defection to Baltimore and Malcolm Jenkins‘ retirement.
Mathieu, who will turn 30 later this month, has suited up for the Cardinals, Texans, and Chiefs in his NFL career. Each of his three years in Kansas City ended with Pro Bowl or First Team All-Pro honors, and he racked up 213 tackles, 13 interceptions, 27 passes defensed, and two defensive TDs during that time. He was instrumental to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV outfit and their 2021 AFC Championship.
Despite those contributions, the Chiefs decided against offering him a contract this offseason. That decision and Mathieu’s extended stay on the open market qualify as something of a surprise, though we do not know what type of money he is seeking. It’s also possible that he is not being valued as highly as his raw totals would suggest; in the 2020-21 campaigns, Pro Football Focus graded him as an average to slightly-above average defender, and an ever-increasing reliance on advanced metrics could be suppressing his market.
Nonetheless, his pedigree in terms of traditional statistical achievements, not to mention his positional versatility and leadership qualities, would seem to make him a valuable addition to any number of clubs. In addition to the Saints, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News believes the 49ers — who also came out of the draft without filling their safety need — could be in play (Twitter link). The Rams and Steelers were also said to be interested, though Pittsburgh’s recent safety additions would seem to foreclose the possibility of a Mathieu signing.
The Eagles may also loom as a potential landing spot. Mathieu met with Philadelphia shortly after his visit with the Saints.