For the third time in his career, Tyrann Mathieu is slated to hit free agency. The most recent time the safety hit the open market came in 2019 when he'd eventually make the wise choice of inking a three-year deal with the Kanas City Chiefs. There, Mathieu blossomed into one of the key pieces to the club's Super Bowl LIV championship run and has arguably been the face of the Chiefs' defense throughout his tenure while Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill hold the spotlight on offense.
He's either been an All-Pro or Pro Bowler over his three seasons with the Chiefs and has proven to be one of the more versatile players in the league. He's shown the ability to play in the back end of the secondary as a traditional safety, line up in the slot or move up in the box, which makes him a fascinating piece in any secondary.
Last season, Mathieu totaled 76 tackles and one sack, while defending six passes and recording three interceptions.
As we wait to see where Mathieu will end up, let this post be your hub for all things surrounding his free agency. Below, you'll find potential landing spots, a look at his projected contract, and a nugget-by-nugget news rundown of all the latest developments.
Salary cap figures come from Spotrac.
Potential landing spots
Kansas City Chiefs
A return to Kansas City should still be looked at as a possibility the longer he remains on the open market, despite the team going out and signing safety Justin Reid. Mathieu was dominant during his first three seasons with the organization and was able to help lead the Chiefs to two Super Bowl appearances and one title. He has also expressed a desire to remain in Kansas City.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have made big swings thus far in free agency, signing corner J.C. Jackson and trading for pass rusher Khalil Mack. Why not make Mathieu the cherry on top? Even with Jackson at corner, they could use a playmaker like him on defense with the secondary coming off a 19th-best ranking in the league against the pass in DVOA. L.A. would not only be injecting a talented player like Mathieu into its secondary, but they'd also be making their AFC West opponent in the Chiefs weaker, which adds some spice to the potential pursuit.
Putting a playmaker like Mathieu in what is already a budding Dallas defense would be a scary proposition for the rest of the NFC. Dallas' pass defense ranked No. 2 in the NFL in DVOA last season largely thanks to their two youngsters in corner Trevon Diggs and pass rusher Micah Parsons. Putting a ballhawk like Mathieu in the fold could help take the Cowboys to another level defensively.
Mathieu is coming off of a three-year, $42 million contract he signed with Kansas City in March 2019. If the Chiefs don't elect to place the franchise tag on him, he could be looking at a similar contract to the one that is set to expire. According to Spotrac's market value calculations, Mathieu is projected to see a contract that pays him an average annual salary of $14.8 million. That's roughly the same AAV that he earned during his last deal with Kansas City.
With his market not has hot as some may have expected, that could open the door for a team like the Cowboys to come in and scoop Mathieu up. Dallas has been looking for rangy safety dating back to their previous pursuit of Earl Thomas and they could finally land a similar type of player in Mathieu to add to what is already an impressive defense.
Free agent timeline
April 7: Mathieu's market appears to be heating up. Days after meeting with the New Orleans Saints, the veteran safety had a virtual visit with the Eagles, according to the NFL Network. Philadelphia is reportedly interested in adding Mathieu but he doesn't appear to be in a rush to sign somehwere as he reportedly wants to "hold out for a right team."
April 5: According to the NFL Network, Mathieu is visiting with the New Orleans Saints while he is in town seeing family and friends. Of course, Mathieu is not only from New Olreans, but he also went to LSU and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year back in 2011, so he is a household name in that area already. The Saints did lose free safety Marcus Williams to the Ravens in free agency, but have already brought aboard fellow safety Marcus Maye. Still, Mathieu would be an intriging addition to that secondary.
March 14: It appears like a return to Kansas City is no longer in the cards for Mathieu. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Chiefs have signed safety Justin Reid to a three-year, $31.5 million contact that includes $20 million guaranteed. Reid should be looked at as a replacement for Mathieu in the K.C. secondary making any sort of reunion a longshot at this point.
March 7: The Kansas City Chiefs have decided to deploy the franchise tag prior to the March 8 deadline, but it will not be Mathieu who they use it on. Instead, the club is reportedly placing the franchise tag on offensive tackle Orlando Brown. That now eliminates one avenue for Mathieu to remain in Kansas City and almost ensures that he'll hit the open market outside of the two sides coming to terms on an extension before the start of the new league year.
March 1: At the NFL Scouting Combine, Chiefs GM Brett Veach was asked about a number of his pending free agents and noted that the team is looking to get a deal done with Mathieu.
"After the Cincinnati game, we had a chance to talk," Veach said. "We certainly love Tyrann and Tyrann loves being here. We'll start that process this week and hopefully, everything ends in a positive direction."
Jan. 31: In the aftermath of the Chiefs losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship, Mathieu was asked about his looming free agent status and expressed that he would like to remain in Kansas City.
"I hope so," he said, via The Kansas City Star. "Ever since I came here, I've just tried to be the right kind of teammate. I've tried to play my part. And obviously it's always that feeling that you could make more plays for your team, but I'm hoping it works out."