Chiefs safety Justin Reid embraces leadership role with new team, anticipates ‘electric plays’

After signing with the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason, safety Justin Reid has high expectations for the 2022 campaign.

HOUSTON — Hoisting a barbell, Justin Reid demonstrated the proper technique for how to lift weights.

Inside a renovated $25,000 weight room at Fleming Middle School provided by the Kansas City Chiefs’ veteran safety in partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Reid emphasized the importance of consistency in training.

The leadership role Reid displayed through his charitable foundation mirrors what he hopes to contribute to his new team after the former Houston Texans starter signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Chiefs in March as a free agent.

Why did the Chiefs sign Reid? To ‘command the back end’

There was a void for Reid to step into as the replacement for former All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who wasn’t retained as a free agent and signed with his hometown New Orleans Saints.

“Absolutely, I think that’s the reason they brought me there is to command the back end,” said Reid, a former third-round draft pick from Stanford. “Not just be a leader by speaking, but to be a leader by example and to help those young guys on the roster develop in the players they’re capable of being.”

Reid joined a legitimate Super Bowl contender that needed his presence in the secondary as a rangy, instinctive pure safety.

After going a combined 8-25 over the past two seasons with the Texans, Reid is thrilled to join a team where winning is the standard.

He’s now a part of an AFC West powerhouse headlined by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“Yeah, we’re looking sharp,” Reid said. “When you have talented players on the field like quarterback Patrick Mahomes, NFL Hall of Famers like Travis Kelce, and the amount of depth and experience on the roster and a great coaching staff, all of that plays a role in building those championships. I get to see it firsthand and add to it as well and all of that is very exciting.”

Reid, signed to a contract that includes $20.485 million guaranteed with a $10.5 million signing bonus negotiated by Joel Segal, is the younger brother of former Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid.

A former finalist for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and a former Ed Block Courage Award winner known for his community involvement, Reid intercepted two passes last season and forced one fumble. In four NFL seasons, Reid has recorded seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and two sacks.

‘A lot of electric plays’

Reid envisions making a lot of impactful plays in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

“It’s going really well,” Reid said. “The coaches, Steve Spagnuolo, his defense is very symmetric with guys spinning all over the place. His defense is very dynamic, and I love that. He has so many different wrinkles: playing a two-high (safety), switching it up and playing a zone, blitzing on occasion. I would love to highlight blitzing a little bit more and add that to my game.

“He’s had a long history of success and I’m excited to be a part of that. I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities, especially if we’re up in games early as Patrick Mahomes tends to do. There will be some opportunities on the back end to make a lot of electric plays. I need them.”

For Reid, replacing Mathieu is about more than production

As Mathieu’s former teammate in Houston, Reid saw everything that he was about as a high-energy, emotional, and versatile defender.

Mathieu continued that in Kansas City.

“Tyrann, I’ll never forget his thing was a mentality and attitude, the work ethic and just playing with a savviness,” Reid said. “He called it ‘championship swagger,’ fall forward. His pregame speeches were second to none. He was a big leader in the room, he’s someone that everybody gravitated to. So, when he did leave Houston, I kind of took over a little bit of that role by the precedent that he set. Tyrann’s an unbelievable guy, an unbelievable player.”

As much knowledge as Mathieu imparted to him, Reid has his own style of play. He won’t try to imitate what Mathieu did.

“I have always said that a copy is never worth as much as the original,” Reid said. “There will never, ever, ever be another Tyrann Mathieu come through Kansas City. There just won’t, but I can bring the best Justin Reid possible to Kansas City.

“So, that’s my mentality. I’m going to play to my strengths. I’m going to play to who I am. I’m going to play to the defense and Spags has some creative things we’re going to do going forward. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play great defense; we’re going to play great ball.”

Making his decision

Reid’s representatives held some dialogue with Texans general manager Nick Caserio, but nothing ever came close to a deal for him to remain with the AFC South franchise.

It was a scenario that Reid was prepared for and at peace with heading into the free agency process.

“It’s really kind of a good problem to have when you start getting wined and dined and courted by different teams,” Reid said. “Eventually, you start getting numbers thrown at you and you break down what’s the best situation for yourself as a player. The financial part all plays a role. All things being equal, Kansas City made the most sense. I knew it in my heart and that made the decision easy.”

“It’s bittersweet. I love Houston. I’m so excited to start my career here and make so many relationships and friendships. It felt like home. The city took me in with open arms. Now, it’s time for the next chapter. I’m excited about the opportunity with Kansas City and what the future holds and what I can do with the Kansas City organization and the chance to win a whole lot of football games.”

To play with Mahomes instead of falling short to him on the field as Reid and the Texans did in a 2020 AFC divisional-round playoff game as the star quarterback engineered an epic comeback victory gives Reid a lot of confidence.

“I tell you what, it will be a whole lot more fun playing with him than against him,” Reid said. “Playing against him in practice will definitely help. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. The outcomes are endless.”

‘Houston will always have a special play in my heart’

Yes, that Texans playoff loss to Kansas City has already come up in conversations in the Chiefs’ locker room. Reid, who got tackled short of the first-down marker on an ill-advised fake punt call from former coach Bill O’Brien in that playoff loss, is glad to be with the Chiefs.

“Yeah, it’s been brought up once or twice,” Reid said. “Hey man, I’ve been there as a part of that journey, just on the wrong side of it. No matter what, Houston will always have a special place in my heart. Now it’s time for something new.”

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