Most big-name NFL free agents have signed new deals during the 2022 offseason. However, All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu is surprisingly still available. The Kansas City Chiefs appear prepared to move on from him after signing Justin Reid in free agency. Mathieu’s availability could be a sign for the New Orleans Saints.
The New Orleans, Louisiana native recently visited his hometown to meet with the Saints’ top brass. The two sides didn’t leave the meeting with a deal, but it would not be surprising if general manager Mickey Loomis brought the former Chiefs star back home.
If it happens, the Saints could be getting one of the biggest steals of the free-agency period.
Tyrann Mathieu pitches New Orleans homecoming
The New Orleans Saints have lost some big names this offseason, but they’re showing interest in a player who could help turn the tide — Tyrann Mathieu.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the Saints recently met with the three-time Pro Bowl safety while he was in New Orleans visiting family and friends.
Mathieu is from New Orleans, and he played college football at LSU. He became a star during his time in Baton Rouge, making big-time plays on defense and special teams.
The Honey Badger opened up on having the opportunity to meet with the Saints.
“First and foremost, it’s a great opportunity with Dennis Allen stepping into the lead position,” Mathieu said per Wilson Alexander of The Advocate. He’s a great defensive mind. I have a lot of respect for Mrs. [Gayle] Benson and the kind of things she does throughout the community. It’s a team I grew up watching.”
“Any time I get to play in front of family and friends, it obviously gives me more energy. It would be a great opportunity if that was to come.”
Why the Saints should sign the Chiefs All-Pro safety
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the best players still available in free agency, so it’s not surprising that the Saints are interested. It is perplexing that no one has signed him, though.
Mathieu has spent the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs after five years with the Arizona Cardinals and a brief stint with the Houston Texans. The LSU product has recorded 610 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 76 passes defended, 26 interceptions, and four forced fumbles in 129 games.
New Orleans could undoubtedly use a talented player like Mathieu heading into Dennis Allen’s first season as head coach.
The Saints lost their two starting safeties. Marcus Williams signed with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. Meanwhile, veteran Malcolm Jenkins retired. The front office signed former New York Jets safety Marcus Maye, who is a capable replacement. The team also still has versatile defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on the roster.
“I have a great relationship with Cam Jordan, Marshon Lattimore,” said Tyrann Mathieu. “The list goes on and on. Any time I see the Saints play defense, I always tap myself on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, I could probably roll with those guys.'”
“Those guys have done a great thing. The last couple years, they’ve been like top-five in defense. I don’t think they really need me, but it would be good to go back home and help them win.”
While safety might not be the most pressing need for the Saints, it’s hard to deny the value a ball-hawking safety like the Honey Badger would bring to the Big Easy.
Other team needs heading into the 2022 NFL Draft
The Saints entered the offseason with several needs to address, most notably quarterback and wide receiver. After losing safety Marcus Williams and left tackle Terron Armstead, those positions moved up in priority.
New Orleans could opt to select a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. The front office re-signed Jameis Winston, but it’s unclear if the team views him as a viable long-term option. The Saints have the No. 16 and No. 19 overall picks. A prospect like Kenny Pickett or Matt Corral could be on their radar in the back half of the first round.
Losing Armstead was a massive blow for the offensive line. James Hurst projects as the starting left tackle opposite Ryan Ramczyk, but the Saints undoubtedly must add depth.
Tyrann Mathieu would add much-needed talent to the safety position to counter the losses of Williams and Jenkins. If New Orleans can pull off the homecoming, it would allow the front office to focus on addressing the other glaring needs through the draft.
Mathieu is already buying in. Now, it’s up to the Saints to seal the deal.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference