Tyrann Mathieu Landing Spots: Jets, Raiders, Eagles could all use the veteran defensive back

    What are the potential landing spots for Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu if he leaves via free agency in 2022?

    The 2022 NFL free agent safety class will have quite a few intriguing options, but there are three defensive backs — Tyrann Mathieu, Jessie Bates, and Marcus Williams — who stand above the rest. Today, we’ll hone in on the Honey Badger. Will the Chiefs retain the star safety next season? If not, where are some of Mathieu’s potential landing spots?

    Can the Chiefs re-sign Tyrann Mathieu?

    Mathieu has already hit it big financially twice in his NFL career. First, he landed a five-year, $62.5 million extension from the Cardinals after three seasons in Arizona. Then, after the Cards cut him, he spent a year with the Texans. Most recently, Mathieu signed a three-year, $42 million deal with the Chiefs before the 2019 campaign.

    Suffice it to say that pact has worked out for Kansas City. Mathieu has earned first-team All-Pro nods in consecutive seasons and is still playing like one of the best safeties in the NFL. The Chiefs will enter the 2022 offseason with nearly $30 million in cap space, so they should have the means to re-sign Mathieu.

    Tyrann Mathieu landing spots

    If Kansas City doesn’t hold on to Mathieu, where could he end up? Here are a few theoretical destinations.

    Mathieu could be the new face of the New York Jets defense

    First-year Jets head coach Robert Saleh was supposed to be a defensive mastermind who could transform the Jets’ production on that side of the ball. While the club’s roster is certainly limited, New York has bottomed out on defense. They rank dead last in points allowed and expected points added per play (EPA) and second-to-last in yards allowed.

    Rookie Ashtyn Davis could be a long-term piece in Gang Green’s secondary, but fellow safety Marcus Maye tore his Achilles in November after the Jets franchise-tagged him earlier this year. Maye is almost a lock to sign elsewhere in free agency, creating an opening for someone like Mathieu. The Jets haven’t been afraid to spend on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve handed out hefty contracts to C.J. Mosley and Carl Lawson in recent years.

    The Las Vegas Raiders need a playmaking partner for Trevon Moehrig

    Here’s hoping the Raiders can start fresh in 2022. After tragedy and off-field incidents dominated their 2021 campaign, Las Vegas needs a complete overhaul next season. That could include a new head coach and a new defensive scheme, and the Raiders would benefit from Mathieu’s veteran presence.

    Like the Jets, the Raiders also have at least one promising defender in their secondary. The club selected safety Trevon Moehrig in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he’s been everything Vegas hoped he could be. The TCU product plays exclusively free safety, which would allow Mathieu to spend his time in the box.

    With a need at safety, the Philadelphia Eagles could make a play for Mathieu

    At 29 years old, Mathieu won’t be the youngest free agent safety on the market — but he’s younger than either of the Eagles’ starting options. Both Anthony Harris (31) and Rodney McLeod (32) will hit free agency next year, and I wouldn’t necessarily peg either as a likely candidate to return to Philadelphia.

    2019 sixth-rounder Marcus Epps has been solid in a rotational role. But even if he’s elevated to full-time starter, the Eagles could use another safety. Philadelphia should be in a better financial position next year than they were in the 2021 offseason. With veteran options in place at many other spots, perhaps they spend to bring in someone like Mathieu.

    Could Mathieu be the finishing touch on a young Carolina Panthers defense?

    The Panthers’ offense is incredibly hard to watch. Thankfully, Carolina fans can hang their hat on an exciting defensive unit that’s been built through a combination of draft picks, free agency, and trade acquisitions. After using their entire 2020 draft on defensive players, the Panthers have since added Jaycee Horn, Stephon Gilmore, C.J. Henderson, and Haason Reddick.

    Jeremy Chinn was one of those 2020 draft choices, and he’s quickly turned into one of the best playmaking safeties in the league. He should lock down one safety spot for years to come. But the Panthers have deployed Juston Burris and Sean Chandler opposite him, and neither has been inspiring. Mathieu could be the final piece of the puzzle for an already-talented Carolina defense.

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