Tyrann Mathieu

Chiefs Activate Tyrann Mathieu; S Still Game-Time Call

The Chiefs will have the option of Tyrann Mathieu suiting up in Week 1. They activated the All-Pro safety from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, but it is not yet a lock he will play Sunday.

Mathieu tested positive for the coronavirus Sept. 1, and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets the team wants to monitor its standout defender after this hiatus in order to ensure he’s good to go against the Browns. Mathieu officially will carry a questionable designation for Week 1, but Saturday’s activation certainly marks a good sign for his Sunday availability.

Andy Reid said this week Mathieu could play despite not practicing over the past week and change. Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo has essentially drawn up two game plans, per NFL.com’s James Palmer (Twitter link), based on Mathieu’s status. The Chiefs have capitalized on Mathieu’s versatility, with the Honey Badger’s 2019 signing playing a central role in elevating Kansas City’s defense from the bottom-tier unit it was in 2018.

Mathieu, 29, intercepted six passes last season and has 10 thefts in two years with the Chiefs. He is going into a contract year and poised to cash in again. With one bye available to teams under the league’s new playoff format, Sunday’s Browns-Chiefs matchup takes on greater importance. Mathieu being on the field will aid the Chiefs against the team that nearly upset them in last year’s divisional round. Mathieu intercepted a pass in that narrow victory.

Additionally, the Chiefs promoted defensive back Zayne Anderson from their practice squad and signed linebacker Elijah Sullivan to their 16-man taxi squad. Kansas City also released DB Shakur Brown from the P-squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC West

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BroncosChargersChiefs and Raiders moves will be noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Denver Broncos

Signed: 

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad: 

Kansas City Chiefs

Signed:

Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list:

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Claimed:

Waived:

Signed to practice squad:

Chiefs Discuss Tyrann Mathieu Extension, Prepared To Tag Orlando Brown Jr. In 2022

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and GM Brett Veach have expressed a desire to extend Tyrann Mathieu. The All-Pro safety has shown interest in staying in Kansas City as well, but the Chiefs are not rushing to finalize a deal.

Citing this year’s $16MM cap reduction, Veach noted the Mathieu math is a bit more complicated than it otherwise would have been.

We’ve had a chance to talk to Tyrann and his representation, and I think it’s a little bit difficult with the landscape right now of having two cap-shortened offseasons, and where we are in regards to our offseason projections,” Veach said during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio (via Pro Football Talk). “But as we’ve discussed with Tyrann and his crew, it’s one of those situations that where we are now will certainly not be where we are once the season ends. Once we correct some of the things when you have extensions, conversations, trades, [free agents who] move on — every team is certainly in a different position [with] what their books say than they will be in the offseason.

We like to think that we’re going to find a way to get this done, and he knows we love him and we know he wants to be here. And right now for us and for him, I think it’s just a timing thing.

The Chiefs are projected to be a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of cap space in 2022, though that is a ways off, but this equation does not yet include Orlando Brown Jr. The Chiefs are tabling negotiations with their new left tackle until the offseason, but Veach said he has factored a Brown franchise tag into his 2022 numbers.

Right now we’re counting Orlando on a tag, but we think he’s going to play well, and we’re going to extend him, and that opens up space,” Veach said, via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher.

Veach and Co. have managed their books quite well in recent years, signing Patrick Mahomes to a record-setting extension that is still somehow team-friendly while also extending Chris Jones and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs, however, finalized these deals in the summer of 2020, when the cap’s status featured greater uncertainty. The cap is expected to rise toward $210MM in 2022.

Both Mathieu and Brown are going into contract years. Each will seek top-market money, and the team can obviously only tag one of them. The offensive line tag came in at just $13.8MM this year. The number will rise in 2022. Mathieu’s safety tag would be higher than the league-determined figure at the position, due to the 120% rule that comes into play when teams tag players they previously signed to big-ticket deals. Mathieu’s 2022 tag figure would be $17.46MM — 120% of his $14.55MM 2021 base salary.

While Brown has not proven a fit just yet, Mathieu has been vital to the Chiefs’ back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The 29-year-old defender has earned first-team All-Pro acclaim in each of his two Chiefs seasons. He is set to finish out a three-year, $42MM pact this season. Mathieu and Landon Collins‘ $14MM-per-year deals topped the safety market in 2019, but Jamal Adams has since raised the bar to $17.5MM annually. Adams’ deal stands to impact the Chiefs soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Discuss Extension With Tyrann Mathieu

Earlier this offseason, Chiefs GM Brett Veach said he hoped to keep safety Tyrann Mathieu in Kansas City for years to come. Mathieu echoed those sentiments last week.

“Absolutely, I’d would love to spend the rest of my time in Kansas City,” he said (via Blair Kerkhoff of the Wichita Eagle). “Everybody has embraced me here. It reminds me so much of a football town. For me, that’s everything. Waking up, seeing my family, going to play football. It’s a blessing to be here.”

Mathieu will count nearly $20MM against the cap in 2021, the final season of the three-year, $42MM contract he signed in March 2019. While the Chiefs have managed to conduct the bulk of their offseason business without lowering that cap charge and still have enough space to sign their draft class, it never hurts to have more room. And given the quality of Mathieu’s play during his first two years in KC, a new contract feels like a no-brainer.

Veach says there is no timeline for a Mathieu extension, though he expects talks to ramp up after this week’s draft (Twitter link via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star). The $14MM average annual value on Mathieu’s current deal is still near the top of the safety market, where Justin Simmons‘ $15.25MM AAV represents the new high-water mark.

Mathieu, who will turn 29 next month, will doubtlessly want to top that figure, and he will have every reason to aim high. The LSU product has earned Pro Bowl nods in both of his seasons with the Chiefs, and he earned First Team All-Pro honors in 2020. Over his two KC seasons, he has tallied 137 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 21 passes defensed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Want Tyrann Mathieu “For Years To Come”

Tyrann Mathieu has just one year to go on his three-year, $42MM deal. But, GM Brett Veach says that he hopes to keep the standout safety “for years to come.”

[RELATED: Eagles Requested Eric Bieniemy Interview]

We will have some work to do, get with him and his agents,” Veach said (Twitter link via Jake Lebahn of WIBW). “He has proven to be a great leader and player and in the community, we hope to have him with this organization for years to come.”

An extension would make lots of sense for the Chiefs. First, it would keep Mathieu in red and white for 2022 and beyond. Also, a new deal could tamp down Mathieu’s sizable cap charge. As it stands, the first-team All-Pro is set to count for $19.7MM against the cap in 2021. With the cap set to drop, that would give the Chiefs some much needed capital to work with in March.

Last year, Mathieu notched 62 tackles, 6 interceptions, and nine passes defensed. Mathieu scored his deal during an uncertain period for the safety market, but he’s held up his end of the bargain. And, even though he lost his cool during the Chiefs’ frustrating Super Bowl performance, Veach wants to keep him in the fold for the long run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.