Fresh off the New Orleans Saints swinging a big trade aimed at bringing in more draft picks to help them field a competitive roster in 2022, they’re not done in free agency either. One of the biggest names left on the free agent market is former Kansas City Chiefs do-it-all safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Despite his production with a perennial contender, the Honey Badger hasn’t garnered much interest. Perhaps he’s slowing down a bit, maybe he’s looking for too big a contract at this stage in free agency, who knows.
What we do know is that according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mathieu is set to visit the Saints facility while he’s in the area. It’s the first official visit of the offseason for Mathieu, a three-time Pro Bowl safety. Here are three reasons why Mathieu signing with the Saints makes sense.
Tyrann Mathieu signing in New Orleans would be a homecoming party
Born in New Orleans, Mathieu stayed connected to his roots by attending LSU, where he won SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. Despite his superb college production, Mathieu slipped during the process after being kicked off the Tigers for violating a team rule. He eventually landed with the Arizona Cardinals in the third round, where coach Bruce Arians switched Mathieu from a corner to a safety.
The transition went smoothly for the high IQ defender, being named as the first-team All-Pro safety, while receiving Pro Bowl honors. Mathieu would later reach the Pro Bowl twice more, with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Interestingly, Mathieu has had two other chances to sign with the Saints, but they’ve had significant cap worries in the past few years. It feels like Mathieu playing for his home-state football team has always been a great fit, but up until this point, there’s been little mutual interest for whatever reason.
Now that Mathieu’s interest as a whole doesn’t appear to be at its peak, both the Honey Badger and the Saints would appear to have very little to lose. Local fans would be thrilled with a Mathieu signing, not only thanks to the local ties, but also because he’s a great player.
The Honey Badger could complete a playmaking secondary
It’s crazy to dream of a defense that already ranked sixth in the NFL with 18 interceptions a year ago adding yet another turnover machine to the back end of their defense. But this isn’t the same exact group from a year ago.
Marcus Williams bolted for Baltimore and the Saints replaced him with Marcus Maye. Both players have played five seasons, but Williams has 15 career interceptions compared to Maye’s six.
- Tyrann Mathieu stats (2021): 76 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 1 TD, 6 PD, 3 FR
Meanwhile, Mathieu has a total of 26 career interceptions across nine seasons, including having picked off six passes in 2020 alone. Pair Mathieu with Marcus Lattimore and Paulson Adebo and suddenly the Saints will have a strong chance at improving their odds of winning the turnover battle with Jameis Winston under center.
Saints have every reason to avoid losing at all costs in 2022
One thing became obvious once the Saints completed their draft pick trade with the Eagles, sending out their 2022 first-round pick in the process. The Saints have no desire to do anything but compete this season. Without their own first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, they need to do everything in their power to rack up wins, ensuring they don’t hand a top-10 pick to the Eagles when all is said and done.
The best way to add wins to your schedule? Add great players. Mathieu has been lingering on the free agent market for over a month now. There’s a chance he could be signed at a fraction of his typical cost, and with the Saints still having over $20 million in cap space, coming to terms on a one-year contract shouldn’t be difficult.
Mathieu signing with the Saints gives him a chance to play close to home, be part of a dangerous secondary, while playing for a team that will be all-in during their effort to make the playoffs. That sounds like a fun recipe for success.