Tyrann Mathieu

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Contract Details: Funchess, LaCosse, Golden

Some assorted contract notes from around the NFL:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Colts): One year, $10MM. $7MM guaranteed via roster bonus. $3MM base salary. $3MM in incentives for receptions, receiving yards, TDs, Pro Bowl, All-Pro. Twitter link via Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star.
  • Tyrann Mathieu, S (Chiefs): Three years, $42MM. $26.8MM guaranteed, $14.8MM signing bonus. Base salaries: $850K (2019), $1.15MM (2020), $14.5MM (2021, nonguaranteed). Details via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • K.J. Wright, LB (Seahawks): Two years, up to $15MM (original story). $8MM in 2019, including $5MM signing bonus, $1.5MM base salary, $1.5MM roster bonus. Second year isn’t guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Brady Henderson.
  • Matt LaCosse, TE (Patriots): Two years, $2MM, $500K guaranteed for 2019 (original story). Base salaries: $700K (2019), $1MM (2020). $300K signing bonus, $25K per-game bonus. $500K in playing time/receptions incentives. Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate.
  • Markus Golden, LB (Giants): One year. Worth up to $4.75MM, $2.225MM guaranteed. Twitter link via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
  • Cameron Fleming, OT (Cowboys): Two years, $8.5MM. 2019: $1MM base salary, $1.5MM signing bonus, $2.25MM cap number. $300K for 60-percent playing time, $600K for 70-percent. Twitter link via ESPN’s Todd Archer.
  • Bruce Ellington, WR (Patriots): One year, $25K guaranteed. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

DB Notes: Roby, Boston, Berry

Earlier today, the Texans agreed to sign former Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby to a one-year, $10MM deal. It sounds like the 27-year-old may have left some longer deals on the table, as the defensive back told Mike Klis of 9News in Denver that he turned down a three-year offer from the Steelers and a one-year offer from the 49ers. Roby said that the Browns were also in the mix (Twitter link).

“It’s a prove it deal,” Roby explained. “I feel like I should go back in (the market) while I’m still young.”

Roby left Denver after spending five years with the organization, and it sounds like the veteran holds a bit of a grudge against his former team.

“It’s a business. Denver didn’t want me, they wanted someone else,” Roby said, with the cornerback referring to the team’s acquisition of Kareem Jackson (Twitter link). “No, they tried to word it nice – they were talking about it but they didn’t offer. They got the guy they wanted.”

Let’s check out some more notes revolving around the league’s defensive backs…

  • Free agent safety Tre Boston doesn’t expect to sign a deal right away, with the 26-year-old telling ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he expects to be in the “second wave” of safety signings (Twitter link). Boston said that three teams have already reached out to express preliminary interest, including the Raiders. However, following the team’s agreement with Lamarcus Joyner, it’s uncertain if they’ll still have interest. Boston spent the 2018 campaign with the Cardinals, compiling 79 tackles, nine passes defended, and three interceptions.
  • Could the Chiefs signing of Tyrann Mathieu spell the end of Eric Berry‘s tenure with the organization? Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio thinks so, as the writer can’t envision the organization paying a combined $27MM for the two players. Considering Berry’s recent injury issues, this isn’t a particularly hot take, but it’s worth noting that the Chiefs will have to make a decision relatively soon. As Florio tweets, another $7.25 million of Berry’s contract will become guaranteed on March 15th.
  • A number of safeties earned large paydays yesterday, which was a significant difference from last offseason. CBS Sports’ Brady Quinn explained why safeties were the bigger winner during the NFL’s first day of the legal tampering period.

Extra Points: Mathieu, Texans, Bucs, Bennett, Bears

It sounds like the Texans tried to keep Tyrann Mathieu before he ultimately signed with the Chiefs. Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo tweets that Houston offered the safety a long-term deal that would have paid him around $9.5MM per season.

The reporter notes that the Texans and Chiefs were bidding for Mathieu until the end, and Houston’s final offer was close to Kansas City’s. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes that the organization was (and, presumably, is) “willing to spend liberally” on a veteran safety, and both general manager Brian Gaine and coach Bill O’Brien wanted to keep Mathieu.

The safety ended up inking a three years worth $42MM with the Chiefs. The Texans have reportedly shifted their focus to other safeties, including Earl Thomas.

Let’s take a look at some additional notes from around the NFL…

  • Besides a safety, McClain notes that the Texans are also hunting for a pass-rushing “inside player.” The team could ultimately look towards the draft if nothing solidifies during free agency.
  • The Buccaneers reached out to linebacker Deone Bucannon, reports Greg Auman of The Athletic (via Twitter). The 26-year-old had spent his entire career with the Cardinals, and he started all of his 41 games between 2015 and 2017. He took a bit of a step back in 2018, compiling 38 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 13 games (six starts). The linebacker played with new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians during their stints in Arizona.
  • Following the Patriots‘ acquisition of Michael Bennett, there were some rumblings that his brother, tight end Martellus Bennett, would come out of retirement and return to New England. However, the Patriots’ new acquisition poured some water on the rumors this evening, saying that the whispers of Martellus coming out of retirement were “fake news” (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). After winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016, the tight end split the 2017 season between New England and Green Bay.
  • The Bears are expecting a pair of defensive backs to go elsewhere this offseason. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that safety Adrian Amos is “close to having a deal in place elsewhere,” and it sounds like the team is already eyeing potential replacements. Meanwhile, Biggs notes that cornerback Bryce Callahan won’t be back with the Bears after they signed veteran Buster Skrine.
  • Before agreeing to a deal with the Broncos, safety Kareem Jackson was hoping he’d be back in Houston. However, the veteran didn’t receive a whole lot of interest from the Texans, leading to the player feeling “a little disrespected.” “They didn’t even approach me with an offer or any type of deal,” Jackson told Mark Berman of KRIV (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “Obviously, they didn’t want me back or whatever the case may be. I’m not really sure. My agent was never approached by anybody from the Texans organization, so I wasn’t offered a deal of any sort. I kind of feel a little disrespected to be honest about it. At the end of the day, no hard feelings. I had a great nine years here. This will always be home for me. I definitely appreciate all the memories and all the opportunities. I appreciate the fans and everything I was able to build here. I’ll always have love for Houston.”

Chiefs, Tyrann Mathieu Agree To Deal

Connected to high-profile safeties at last year’s trade deadline, the Chiefs are continuing their pursuit months later. They are close to a deal with Tyrann Mathieu, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com tweets.

It looks like a contract will be agreed upon, and it is quite the deal. The Chiefs are signing Mathieu for three years and $42MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The average annual value would match that of Landon Collins‘ Redskins pact. The 26-year-old Mathieu profiled as the Chiefs’ top offseason target, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link), and the contract certainly reflects that.

Mathieu signed a one-year, $7MM deal with the Texans last season; he is on the verge of doubling that a year later, illustrating the safety market’s rapid resurgence.

The Texans have been discussing a contract with Mathieu for a while, but the sides have not come to terms. This is considerably north of the proposal the Texans reportedly made, with Houston’s offer being for $9.5MM per year.

This is interesting, given the Texans’ favorable amount of cap space when compared to the Chiefs’. But Kansas City has needs across its defense and will be allocating a considerable amount of money to a position that recently saw its value stagnate.

The Chiefs still have Eric Berry‘s $13MM-AAV contract on their books but have an opening opposite the All-Pro. Berry, 30, is not a reasonable cut candidate this year. It would cost the Chiefs more than $14MM in dead money to jettison the three-time All-Pro. But Kansas City is now heavily invested at a position that has seen its value reignite in a matter of hours.

With the Legion of Boom having disbanded, no team comes close to matching what Kansas City will have allotted to its safety position. But the Chiefs had considerable issues in pass coverage last season, including at pivotal points during their AFC championship game loss, and Mathieu helped rebuild his stock in 2018. The Chiefs were connected to Collins and the still-unattached Earl Thomas early last season but opted to stand pat. While they were agonizingly close to a Super Bowl without making a move, the team is addressing a need area now.

Coming off some disappointing seasons in Arizona, following the Cardinals signing Mathieu to a then-record safety deal (five years, $62.5MM), Mathieu made the most of his one-year Texans pact. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 21 safety last season.

It appears Houston will need to look for another safety. While the market still has some key players, two of the top targets are no longer available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Offered Tyrann Mathieu Over $9.5MM Per Year

We heard last week that the Texans had made a contract offer to safety Tyrann Mathieu in the hopes that they could convince him to steer clear of the free agent market. We now know that the deal was a long-term pact worth over $9.5MM per year, as Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. Mathieu has elected to test the market instead, though he still wants to remain in Houston.

It is a very crowded safety market, but after free agent safeties struggled to find new homes and lucrative deals last season, it appears the increased supply of safety talent this year will not further diminish the demand. To the contrary, it seems that Mathieu may have been wise to turn down Houston’s offer, as he looks to be in high demand around the league (plus, we don’t know the length of Houston’s offer or the guaranteed money it contained).

The Ravens and Buccaneers have been rumored as potential fits, with plenty of chatter linking Mathieu to Baltimore in recent days. The Honey Badger was once the highest-paid safety in football, but he was cut by the Cardinals two years into a $12.5MM/year extension and revived his career in Houston after inking a one-year, $7MM pact with the Texans last March.

In 2018, the 26-year-old (27 in May) looked much like he did when he was at his best in Arizona, starting all 16 games and recording two picks and three sacks. Pro Football Focus appreciated his efforts, grading him as the 21st-best safety in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Mathieu, Ravens, Bucs

While the Texans are attempting to retain Tyrann Mathieu, both the Ravens and Buccaneers have “serious interest” in the veteran defensive back, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Baltimore just released fellow safety Eric Weddle on Tuesday, while Tampa Bay has been in need of secondary help for years. Mathieu inked a one-year, $7MM deal with Houston last year, but he’s expected to receive a significant raise on his next contract. Per La Canfora, Mathieu should be able to collect $24MM over the first two years of a new deal.

Here’s more from JLC:

  • Overall, the safety market is not expected to be as depressed as it was a year ago, when Mathieu, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, and others were forced to settle for one-year pacts. Earl Thomas will set the market and is asking for $13MM annually, per La Canfora. Meanwhile, former Giants safety Landon Collins — now on the market after New York declined to franchise him — will likely come in below Thomas, and Bears defender Adrian Amos is searching for $9-10MM per year.
  • While there aren’t any clear-cut, No. 1 wideouts available this offseason, slot receivers are aplenty, and they should get paid, says JLC. Golden Tate is looking for $13MM per season, while Adam Humphries may be targeting $10MM annually and has already been deemed too expensive to return to the Buccaneers. Cole Beasley could also get $10MM per year, while John Brown wants $8-9MM per season.
  • Offensive tackle Daryl Williams is expected to reach the open market, and La Canfora reports Williams’ price has already “soared” above where the Panthers are comfortable paying. Both the Bills and Giants are expected to target Williams, and both connections make sense. Buffalo employs former Carolina staffer Brandon Beane as its general manager, while ex-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is in charge in New York.
  • The Raiders have already been mentioned as a potential suitor for Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, and the Colts could also join the fray, per La Canfora. Williams is expected to earn more than $12MM per year on his new deal.

Safety Notes: Weddle, Mathieu, Collins

In somewhat of a surprising sequence on Tuesday — some Ravens staffers were surprised by this move, per NFL.com’s Peter Schrager (on Twitter) — Eric Weddle is now a free agent. Although the 34-year-old safety said in January he would retire if he was not part of the 2019 Ravens, he backtracked on that. His stance remains to continue his career, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). On the heels of three Pro Bowl slates in Baltimore, Weddle stands to generate interest as a short-term fix. It will, however, be interesting to see how teams proceed at this position this year — after oddly brushing it aside in 2018. There are far more safeties available this year, giving this the feel of another buyers’ market.

Here is the latest from the safety marketplace:

  • One player whose market may be in better position than it was last year, Tyrann Mathieu will have options. The Texans are trying to re-sign the seventh-year safety, and this process has now produced a preliminary offer, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Mathieu is believed to still want to remain in Houston, Wilson writes, and the parties have been linked to a reunion for months. But with less than a week until the legal tampering period, the 26-year-old defender is a threat to depart.
  • The Ravens already have several veteran contracts in their secondary, helping explain their reasoning to cut Weddle, but Jason La Canfora tweets they may be interested in Mathieu. Tony Jefferson‘s former back-line mate in Arizona, Mathieu would fit Baltimore’s desire for another playmaker at this position, JLC adds.
  • The Giants‘ decision to let Landon Collins hit free agency shocked much of the football-following world, and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports there will be an extensive market awaiting the three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 All-Pro. The Chiefs, Colts and Redskins profile as potential suitors, per Raanan. This move also may affect future Giants negotiations, reminding of how Dave Gettleman‘s tactics as Carolina’s GM rubbed some Panthers the wrong way, with Raanan adding the team made no serious attempt to discuss a long-term deal with its high-profile safety.
  • New York received multiple offers for Collins prior to last year’s deadline, most notably a third-rounder from the Buccaneers, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the Giants were holding out for a second-rounder and possibly another late-round pick as well. Now, they will lose the safety for a compensatory pick — possibly a 2020 third-rounder, but that depends on what the Giants do in free agency.
  • Collins hitting the market should prompt the Colts to pursue him, with Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star writing the team — which uses a system that values safeties more than most teams — needs a strong safety to pair with Malik Hooker. The Colts engaged in discussions with Clayton Geathers‘ reps at the Combine, but it’s not clear where the sides stand in talks on a Geathers return to Indianapolis. The Colts have already re-signed Mark Glowinski and Margus Hunt, but both players were initially Chris Ballard-era additions. Geathers was a Ryan Grigson second-round pick. The Colts still hold more than $100MM in cap space, putting them in strong position to land Collins if they choose.
  • The 49ers remain in the market for a starting-caliber safety, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (on Twitter). With former Seahawks assistant Robert Saleh running their defense, Earl Thomas is a natural fit. But Maiocco notes the team may not be willing to meet a massive asking price. There are, however, plenty of available candidates beyond Thomas to fill this role.

Latest On Tyrann Mathieu, Jadeveon Clowney

The Texans have not deviated from their Jadeveon Clowney plan. A franchise tag before Tuesday afternoon’s deadline is imminent. The team is still trying to keep Tyrann Mathieu off the market as well.

Houston is making a push to retain Mathieu before he hits free agency, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. No deal is imminent at this juncture, however.

After the season ended, Mathieu indicated he wanted to be back with the Texans. Bill O’Brien said at the Combine he hopes a deal will be finalized. The team has the money to make that happen, holding more cap space ($80.9MM) than all but two teams. But the safety market appears to have restarted, after going to a strange place in 2018, and the former All-Pro will likely want a deal closer to the one he inked with the Cardinals in 2016 than the one-year, $7MM pact he signed with the Texans.

Prior to Eric Berry‘s $13MM-per-year deal, Mathieu was the league’s highest-paid safety — at $12.5MM AAV. He may not be in position to land that, but with Landon Collins and Earl Thomas potentially set to be franchise-tagged (in Collins’ case) or sign a new big-money deal, the 26-year-old Mathieu may want to see what his market looks like. Eric Reid signed a deal far more lucrative than any team was willing to authorize last year, and Lamarcus Joyner is expected to hit free agency, too, pointing to an interesting signing period for this position.

As for Clowney, he is not expected to sign his franchise tender soon after the Texans tag him, Wilson adds. His impending tag means the Texans have barely a week left with exclusive Mathieu negotiating rights. The legal tampering period begins March 11.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Singleton, Pats

There is a definite post-Super Bowl lull in the NFL world right now, and while we will soon be talking about free agent rumors and the April draft in earnest, today is not that day. But there is still professional football to watch if you’re interested, and there are a few NFL items of note to discuss, so let’s get to them:

  • Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic examines how the Rams might address some of their biggest needs this offseason. The club is projected to have about $41MM in salary cap space, and Bonsignore suggests that LA must find a dominant edge rusher to take some pressure off of Aaron Donald. Luckily, this year’s draft features quite a bit of pass rushing talent if the Rams choose to steer clear of the pricey free agent market for edge defenders.
  • Todd Gurley will obviously be back with the Rams, but given his history of knee problems, and the impact that his most recent knee injury had on the team’s playoff run, Bonsignore says LA will think long and hard about adding another back to share the load (we learned last week that the club is interested in bringing back C.J. Anderson). He also suggests that the Rams could bring back Ndamukong Suh on a two-year deal, and that Mark Barron could be a cap casualty.
  • The Bengals will hire Jemal Singleton as their running backs coach, per Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19 (via Twitter). Singleton previously served in the same capacity with the Colts from 2016-17 and with the Raiders in 2018.
  • Jenna Laine of ESPN.com examines a few free agents that the Buccaneers might consider, a list that includes safety Tyrann Mathieu — who of course has a history with new head coach Bruce Arians — and kicker Matt Bryant.
  • After the recent exodus of coaching talent, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com names a few Patriots coaching assistants who could be elevated to position-coach roles. Cole Popovich, Mike Pellegrino, DeMarcus Covington, and Brian Belichick could all be promoted in short order.
  • Pro Football Focus released its list of the top 10 players eligible for free agency in March and projected the contracts those players might land. Five of the top six players are edge rushers, including Jadeveon Clowney, the top player on the list, whom PFF expects to land a six-year, $135MM deal with $85MM in guarantees. Clowney, of course, is expected to be hit with the franchise tag, so if he gets a contract of that size this year, it will likely come from the Texans.