The Kansas City Chiefs knew they were getting a great player on and off the field in Tyrann Mathieu because his former team gave him a glowing review.
Tyrann Mathieu was a one-and-done player for the Houston Texans in 2018, but it turns out the team’s head coach, Bill O’Brien, didn’t necessarily want the safety’s tenure to be so short-lived.
Two offseasons ago, the Arizona Cardinals made Mathieu a surprising free agent when he was released after refusing a pay cut from the five-year extension he’d signed two years prior. Suddenly the market had a new entry at safety and the Houston front office immediately went into action. They secured Mathieu’s services on a quick contract signed only three days after his release good for one year and $7 million.
From there, Mathieu stated that he “definitely” wanted to return to the Texans if they would have him, but Houston’s front office made some difficult decisions to let Mathieu walk in free agency in the same spring the team also lost Kareem Jackson. Bradley Roby was brought in as a free agent and Lonnie Johnson was draft, but between both losses, the Texans have suffered through a down year in the secondary.
For Mathieu, the short-term nature of the deal was a way to show NFL teams what he could do away from Arizona and re-enter the market shortly thereafter. The plan worked well as Mathieu emerged from the following offseason with a three-year deal worth up to $42 million from the Chiefs, a healthy average of $14 million per season.
In his first press conference this week, Reid spoke to reporters about getting ready for the Houston Texans and gave some insight into the team’s acquisition of Mathieu. In doing so, he said he spoke to Bill O’Brien about Mathieu, who made it clear he would have preferred to retain his services in the first place.
“We knew that’s what we were getting,” said Reid of Mathieu’s leadership and influence. “I’d talked to Bill [O’Brien] actually, and Bill would have loved to have had him there. It was just part of the National Football League and the way it works, but he told me he’s a phenomenal kid on the field and off. Great leader. So we kind of had a heads-up on what we were getting here.”
For the Chiefs, Mathieu has not only performed impressively on the field and as a leader, but he’s gained national recognition as an All-Pro and Pro Bowler for the first time since 2015. Mathieu’s swagger plays well on a resurgent defensive unit, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s been a game-altering force in the secondary in this season’s second half.
On the season, Mathieu has 75 total tackles, 4 interceptions, 12 passes defended, and 2 sacks.