After being a solid contributor to the Arizona Cardinals defense, Tyrann Mathieu will look for work elsewhere in 2018 and beyond.
Tyrann Mathieu was labeled as questionable heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. He had been a star for a brief period at LSU before being kicked out of school for behavioral problems. His character hasn’t been questioned since, and his talent has spoken for itself in his years with the Arizona Cardinals.
He hits the free agency market, not for any reason other than the Cardinals couldn’t fit him on the books any longer — and someone is going to come along and reap the benefits.
The safety pool hasn’t been drained, which might be cause for concern. Top targets like Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid — both of whom were first-round picks in the same draft class as Mathieu — are still on the market and haven’t received much attention.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Safety has long been a big need for Tampa. Chris Conte was the best player they’ve had at the position in a long time, and that’s saying something considering he’s probably average at best. The Bucs secondary, in general, has been atrocious, ranking near the bottom of the league over the last two seasons. Adding Mathieu would give the Buccaneers a Pro Bowl caliber safety to pair alongside Justin Evans — possibly forming one of the best secondary units in the league over the next few years.
2. New York Jets
One team that has made a surprise splash in free agency this year was the New York Jets. They sprung for top cornerback Trumaine Johnson and could be in line to add another big player to Todd Bowles defense. Mathieu would play alongside rookie sensation Jamal Adams and give the Jets a solid core of players to build around moving forward. New York surprised a lot of people last year it became a potential Wild Card team for a few weeks — and building on that would be the wise move.
3. New York Giants
Before Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie was released, the Giants were talking about moving him to safety. There’s a glaring need next to Landon Collins for New York to fill, and it could be perfect for Mathieu. New York’s defense was supposed to be a saving grace last year but collapsed into itself in a poor year. Adding in Mathieu could be the answer and give the Giants an added punch — and a high character guy for a transitioning locker room.