Tyrann Mathieu

NFC South Notes: Saints, Elflein, Falcons

A potential Alvin Kamara suspension does not appear to be coming to start the 2022 season. The Saints running back’s hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit battery and battery with substantial bodily harm, which was scheduled for this week, has been delayed 60 days, according to KLAS-TV’s David Charns. Kamara, Chiefs cornerback Chris Lammons and two other men face charges in connection with a Feb. 5 assault committed against a man in Las Vegas. The Saints Pro Bowler is bracing for a six-game suspension, but depending on when this hearing ends up taking place, that potential ban may come either during the 2022 season or to start the ’23 campaign.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Tyrann Mathieu is back with the Saints. The offseason addition is making his training camp debut six days late after being excused for a personal matter, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com notes. Signed to a three-year deal worth $28.3MM, Mathieu is believed to have returned to New Orleans on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old All-Pro joins Marcus Maye as the safeties on track to replace the Marcus WilliamsMalcolm Jenkins tandem.
  • Pat Elflein has played both guard and center for the Panthers, but Matt Rhule said recently the veteran will be working at the latter spot during training camp. Elflein is battling the recently signed Bradley Bozeman for the center gig. Despite Bozeman being one of the team’s offseason additions up front, along with projected starters Austin Corbett and Ikem Ekwonu, The Athletic’s Joe Person noted ahead of camp Elflein had a slight lead for the pivot job (subscription required). A former Vikings center starter, Elflein signed a three-year, $13.5MM deal with the Panthers in 2021. He started nine games with Carolina last season, though Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the league’s worst interior O-linemen.
  • The Panthers made some changes to their scouting department recently. They bumped Rob Hanrahan from assistant director of pro scouting to pro scouting director and gave his old gig to Tyler Ramsey, Person tweets. Hanrahan will replace Matt Allen, whom the team parted ways with in February. Additionally, Robert Haynes will rise from the area-scout level to a national scouting post, and former Lions wide receiver Corey Fuller — brother of Kyle and Kendall Fuller — is moving from the assistant level to west coast area scout (Twitter link).
  • Jahri Evans and Ty Warren are attempting to break into the coaching ranks. Both are interning as Saints staffers at camp, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. A 12-year veteran who made four straight All-Pro teams as a Saints guard, Evans, 38, hung up his cleats after the 2017 season. Warren, 41, spent 10 seasons with the Patriots and Broncos, being a starting defensive lineman for two Pats Super Bowl-bound squads. He retired after the 2012 season.
  • The Falcons also made some staff adjustments. They promoted Sal Conti to pro scout and Rushell Harvey to player personnel coordinator, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both staffers joined the team last year under GM Terry Fontenot. The team also hired Donavan Ellison, previously a Panthers assistant, to work as a football analyst.

Contract Details: Addison, Michel, Chargers

We’ve compiled some updated numbers on recent NFL signings:

  • Mario Addison, DE (Texans): two-year deal. Contract has a $7.7MM base value, including a $2MM signing bonus, per ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter.
  • Bryce Callahan, CB (Chargers): signed. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.27MM, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (via Twitter). The deal has a cap hit of $1.04MM thanks to the veteran salary benefit. Callahan will earn a base salary of $1.12MM and a signing bonus worth $152.5K.
  • Mike Davis, RB (Ravens): signed. It’s a one-year deal for the veteran running back, per Yates (on Twitter). The deal is worth a bit more than $1.20MM, meaning Davis’s cap hit will qualify for the veteran salary benefit contract.
  • Tyrann Mathieu, CB (Saints): three-year, $33MM deal ($18MM guaranteed). The deal features a $9.5MM signing bonus and fully guaranteed base salaries in 2022 and 2023. The contract is effectively a three-year pact worth $27MM, with $18MM guaranteed and $2MM in yearly bonuses (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Sony Michel, RB (Dolphins): one-year, $2.1MM deal. The contract includes a $1.75MM base value, including a $350K signing bonus (per Yates on Twitter).
  • E.J. Perry, QB (Jaguars): signed. The UDFA received $230K in guaranteed money from Jacksonville, including a $23K signing bonus and a guaranteed $207K salary, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Kyle Van Noy, LB (Chargers): one-year deal. The contract’s base value and cap hit are worth $2.25MM. Includes $1.5MM base salary and $750K signing bonus, per Yates on Twitter.

Saints Expected To Sign Tyrann Mathieu

9:06 AM: New Orleans has, for a while now, been seen as the favorite to land safety Tyrann Mathieu. It appears they have indeed added the veteran, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (on Twitter) that the Saints are “expected to sign” him in the coming days.

3:40 PM: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the deal is indeed in place, and will be officially signed shortly (Twitter link). Mathieu will earn $33MM over three years, with $18MM fully guaranteed.

It was reported yesterday that the Saints would make an “aggressive push” for the soon-to-be 30-year-old. The deal would represent a homecoming for the New Orleans native who played at LSU in college. It would also mark his fourth career NFL team, after he had a one-year stint in Houston between stays in Arizona and Kansas City.

It was with the Chiefs that Mathieu had the bulk of his individual and collective success. He added two more Pro Bowls and All-Pro nods to his resume, and won his lone Super Bowl during his three seasons there. A starter and valued team leader throughout that time, he totalled 13 interceptions in Kansas City, showcasing his positional versatility along the way.

The Chiefs moved on in free agency, however, signing Justin Reid to take over Mathieu’s starting role. That led to speculation the Saints – who lost Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins this offseason – could be interested in the All-Decade member. The team has already signed Marcus Maye and ex-Chief Daniel Sorensen, but they avoided drafting a safety this weekend. Meanwhile, teams like the Rams and Steelers showed interest, and the Eagles hosted him on a free agent visit as well.

Assuming the deal isn’t officially signed until after 3 PM central time, the Chiefs won’t be in line for a 2023 compensatory pick. The Saints, meanwhile, will add a hometown player as a key part of their rebuilt safety room.

Saints To Pursue Tyrann Mathieu

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.

Rams, Steelers Interested In Tyrann Mathieu

Nearly a month into free agency, Tyrann Mathieu‘s market continues to move slowly. But the three-time All-Pro has now seen several suitors emerge since the calendar turned to April. Two more revealed themselves recently.

The Rams and Steelers are interested in the veteran cover man, who has already met with the Saints and Eagles. Mathieu, understandably, is also believed to be interested in joining the defending champions, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano said during a recent SportsCenter appearance (via 247sports.com). As of Wednesday, the Steelers hold just more than $13MM in cap space; the Rams sit at $7MM.

[RELATED: Chiefs Did Not Make Offer To Mathieu]

Mathieu (30 in May) and the Rams have been in contact recently, though Graziano noted a deal might not come together until after the draft. That post-draft juncture could become relevant. Shortly after the draft, free agents added no longer count toward the league’s compensatory formula. That early-May date annually triggers more free agency activity, with teams free to pursue players without additions affecting their 2023 draft ledgers.

The Steelers were connected to Mathieu in March, and interest remains, per Bob Labriola of the team’s website. It does not sound like Pittsburgh is willing to pay Mathieu at a rate similar to his most recent Kansas City deal (three years, $42MM), but the team has been unusually active on the market this year. Beyond Mitchell Trubisky, the Steelers added a few starters in Myles Jack, Levi Wallace and James Daniels. Four-year safety starter Terrell Edmunds remains unsigned. A Mathieu arrival would commence at an interesting point, with Minkah Fitzpatrick on the cusp of a monster extension.

Lucrative deals headline the Rams’ defensive depth chart, leading to another March role-player exodus. The Rams let Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Corbett walk in free agency before trading Robert Woods. They found room for Bobby Wagner, however. Mathieu, who was 3-for-3 in Pro Bowl nods as a Chief, would represent a fourth player with multiple All-Pro honors on Los Angeles’ defense. At safety, the Rams have their 2021 starters (Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp) under contract. Each is coming off a season-ending injury.

Chiefs Didn’t Offer Tyrann Mathieu A Contract

Tyrann Mathieu has yet to sign with his next team, but a new detail has emerged regarding his exit from Kansas City. As Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star reports, the Chiefs didn’t offer him a new contract when his old one expired last month. 

Instead, the team focused its attention on Justin Reid as a replacement. The former Texan signed a three-year, $31.5MM contract to take over the free safety spot. While Reid doesn’t have the pedigree of Mathieu, he is nearly five years younger. When asked about the team’s decision to move on, Mathieu said he it left him “heartbroken”.

“To be honest, if they would’ve offered me [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” he added. Agents are going to do their thing, but at the end of the day, it’s the player’s decision whether to sign it or not.”

After three seasons in Kansas City – which included two Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods, as well as a Super Bowl title – the 29-year-old is on the move for the third time in his career. He has met with the Saints and Eagles this week, but they aren’t expected to be the only teams vying for him. On a short-term deal in particular, the LSU product has a chance to earn close to the $14MM he averaged per year with the Chiefs.

Kansas City’s offseason has seen a number of notable moves. From the usage of the franchise tag on left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., to the restructured contract of Frank Clark, to the Tyreek Hill trade, the team’s cap situation has changed significantly. It didn’t come as a complete surprise, fiscally speaking, that the former two moves took priority, but it is noteworthy nevertheless that the Chiefs apparently remained as steadfast in their decision to move on from Mathieu as they did.

Eagles Meet With S Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu‘s previous free agency bid led to a position-record offer from the Chiefs not long after the market opened. The All-Pro’s latest unattached stretch has lasted much longer, but teams are monitoring the nine-year veteran.

Mathieu visited the Saints this week, and Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football notes the Eagles are believed to be interested as well (Twitter link). Mathieu went through a virtual meeting with the Eagles recently, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Eagles have re-signed Anthony Harris but have an opening alongside him at safety, a positioned Rodney McLeod manned for the past six years.

While the Eagles may have interest in bringing back McLeod, he is a free agent. Philadelphia saved on its second Harris contract, giving the ex-Vikings franchise player a one-year deal worth $2.5MM. While Mathieu will not set a safety AAV record with his latest free agency accord, he will cost considerably more than what it took for the Eagles to re-up Harris.

Joining the Chiefs after their woeful 2018 defensive season, Mathieu did plenty to reignite Kansas City’s defense under Steve Spagnuolo. The versatile defensive back earned All-Pro acclaim in two of his three Kansas City seasons. Set to turn 30 next month, the Honey Badger would certainly give the Eagles or Saints a considerable back-line upgrade. The Saints are looking to replace ex-Eagle Malcolm Jenkins, who retired last month. Other teams will likely be connected to the three-time All-Pro as well, which would stand to up his price.

Tyrann Mathieu To Visit Saints

One of the top free agents left on the market is making his first visit. Safety Tyrann Mathieu will meet with the Saints, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Saints Sign DE Charlton, S Evans]

The fact that Mathieu is sitting down with the Saints comes as little surprise. He is a native of New Orleans, and played for LSU in college. The team also finds itself undergoing change at the safety position, with Marcus Williams signing in Baltimore and Malcolm Jenkins retiring. In response, the Saints have added Marcus Mayebut they still have a need on the back end.

Mathieu, 29, maintained his high level of play during his three years in Kansas City. He made 213 tackles with the Chiefs, adding 13 interceptions. His time there also saw him win his lone Super Bowl title, and add to his Pro Bowl and All-Pro totals in each campaign. His pedigree in terms of statistical achievements, not to mention his positional versatility and leadership qualities, would make him a sizeable addition to New Orleans or any other interested team.

Rapoport adds that there is “nothing imminent” at this point with respect to any contract offers from the Saints. New Orleans is in an unusually flexible position from a salary cap perspective, though, so they should be able to afford Mathieu on a short- or medium-term deal. His addition, if it were to take place, would represent not only a homecoming and a significant need being filled by the Saints, but it would also remove one of the biggest names from the list of those still available.

Dolphins Not Pursuing Tyrann Mathieu

The Dolphins have been in plenty of headlines this offseason, making numerous additions to their roster. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, however, they are not in the market for one of the top remaining free agents, safety Tyrann Mathieu (Twitter link). 

As Jackson notes, general manager Chris Grier stated simply that the Dolphins are “good at safety”. The top of the current depth chart at the position includes the likes of Brandon Jones, Eric Rowe and Jevon Holland. None of those three are older than 29, and they each contributed to the teams’ relative success on defense in 2021 (ranking mid-pack in most categories, as opposed to the offense’s overall struggles).

While Mathieu – a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team – carries more pedigree and experience than any of Miami’s in-house options, the team is remaining committed to the aforementioned trio. The 29-year-old maintained his high level of play during three seasons in Kansas City, posting 213 tackles and 13 interceptions. Other coveted traits, such as his positional versatility and leadership, were also on display throughout that time.

However, the former Cardinal and Texan has seen the safety market essentially dry up in recent weeks. From the high-priced retentions of Jessie Bates and Quandre Diggs, to the big-money deal given to Marcus Williams, to Mathieu himself being replaced in Kansas City by Justin Reid, not many teams still have a glaring need at the position. That could lead to a less lucrative new deal for Mathieu, who averaged $14MM per year with the Chiefs.

The Dolphins have already made hefty financial commitments to two of their most recent additions. After signing left tackle Terron Armstead and trading for Tyreek Hill, Miami would likely be hard-pressed to afford Mathieu even if he was a target. Regardless, he will need to look elsewhere to find his next home in the NFL.

Latest On Steelers’ Safety Search

The 2021 offseason has seen the Steelers make number of changes, most notably at the quarterback position. Another area of the roster which has become a priority, though, is safety. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports, the team has a number of options at the position. 

Fowler notes the connection some have made between the Steelers and the top remaining option at safety, Tyrann Mathieu. Given his pedigree and versatility – not to mention the unusually-large amount of financial flexibility Pittsburgh has this offseason – a deal between the two sides would make a good deal of sense. However, Fowler cautions that he is unsure how “real” that connection actually is.

That could lead the Steelers to a familiar face at the position. Fowler states that “a reunion is not off the table” between the team and Terrell Edmunds. The 25-year-old started 60 of his 64 games with Pittsburgh, racking up 340 tackles and five interceptions. With fellow safety Minkah Fitzpatrick only under contract for one more year, bringing back Edmunds on a short-term deal would at least provide continuity at the position for 2022.

Lastly, Fowler names Damontae Kazee as another noteworthy option. The 28-year-old spent last season in Dallas after four in Atlanta. For his career, he has totalled 12 interceptions (including a league-leading seven in 2018) and 7 pass deflections. Fowler reports that the Steelers “have him on their radar”.

Pittsburgh currently has just under $16MM in cap space; fitting in any of the three players named above should be relatively straightforward, then. Whether the team decides to add one of them, or go in another direction, could go a long way to helping their defense rebound from an overall disappointing performance in 2021.