Ever since signing with the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2019 offseason, Tyrann Mathieu has been a key leader and player for the team. His free agency outlook remains somewhat bleak, but the team isn’t giving up just yet.
Not all short-term partnerships, especially ones in football, last forever. In today’s NFL, the “lifer” player — one who sticks with a specific team for his entire career and endears himself to those around him — is rare. That’s just the nature of the business, and Tyrann Mathieu is no different.
While Mathieu has certainly earned the love, respect and trust of just about everyone he’s come in contact with during his time in Kansas City, the sand in that hourglass could be running low. In reality, it could already be out. The 29-year-old safety, who turns 30 in May, is set to hit the free agent market. That opens the door for him to join his third team, although neither him nor the Chiefs want that to be the case.
The Chiefs, whether it be Andy Reid, Brett Veach or Steve Spagnuolo, have made it clear that they want Mathieu back. Mathieu himself, during a very emotional end-of-season press conference earlier this year, has made it clear he loves being a Chief and hopes to return. The NFL isn’t a fairy tale sport, though, and with each passing day, it becomes more and more likely that Mathieu tests the open market and lands elsewhere. Earlier this week at the NFL Combine, Veach spoke about his recent communication with Mathieu’s camp.
“After the Cincinnati game, we had a chance to talk (to Tyrann Mathieu’s representatives), we communicated that we certainly love Tyrann, and Tyrann loves being here,” Veach said. “This is actually the start of that process now. Once the season ends, the coaches do their deal and we sit back, we collect all the information — we get with the coaches after they go through their scheme evaluations.
“And we know that once Indy (the NFL Combine) rolls around that we’ll have a chance to on one end, see all the great college prospects, but on the other hand, have an opportunity to talk with our players’ agents and exchange information. So, we’ll start that process this week and hopefully everything ends in a positive direction.”
When asked if it’s commonplace for teams to meet and/or exchange information with their players’ representatives, Veach confirmed that this development is simply business as usual for the Chiefs.
“Yeah,” Veach said. “Typically — for all the players on our roster — if their agents are here, we always make it a point to grab a dinner or catch them in between workouts. But again, that goes for all the players on our roster from 1 down to 53. It’s always good to keep that communication and that dialogue open. So, we’ll certainly do that with Tyrann and his people.”
While it’s undoubtedly a positive thing that the Chiefs and Mathieu’s team are speaking (or slated to speak very soon), absolutely nothing is guaranteed at this point. If the starting point for renegotiations is Harrison Smith’s four-year, $64 million contract he signed last year, the Chiefs have their work cut out for them. Whether it’s length or average annual value that’s serving as a hangup, Veach and company don’t seem to be in a hurry.
The Chiefs are prioritizing the possible franchise tagging and extension of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. He’s younger than Mathieu, plays a much more premium position and also cost the franchise quite a bit of draft capital to acquire. The plan in recent months has been for the Chiefs to settle with Brown before moving on to Mathieu, and that appears to still be their route of choice. Whether Mathieu finds that the grass may be greener elsewhere remains to be seen but if he does, perhaps his most recent team designed their offseason plan to be well off regardless of that.