For the last couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers will sign safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Mathieu is taking his time in free agency (he recently visited in person with the New Orleans Saints and virtually with the Philadelphia Eagles) so nothing is imminent.
For now, though, we know that Pittsburgh is interested in Mathieu.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called Mathieu at some point this offseason. Plus, there was a report from The Athletic this week that suggested Pittsburgh is waiting to see what Mathieu does before making an official offer to safety Terrell Edmunds, who became a free agent after the 2021 season.
The roadblock to bringing Mathieu to Pittsburgh has been money.
The perception has been that Mathieu will receive a deal worth around $15 annually, which is obviously more than the Steelers want to spend on a safety.
That number, however, might not be accurate.
Mathieu spoke candidly to KansasCity.com this week about his time with the Kansas City Chiefs and leaving KC. The Honey Badger admitted that he wanted to return to Kansas City, but the Chiefs never made an attempt this offseason to bring him back.
The three-time Pro-Bowl defensive back said he would’ve signed with the Chiefs for the same deal they gave Justin Reid (Reid is Mathieu’s replacement in KC).
“To be honest, if they would’ve offered me Justin Reid’s deal, obviously I would’ve tried to negotiate, but if that’s where they drew their line in the sand, I probably would’ve took it,” said Mathieu. “I probably would’ve took it.”
Reid signed a three-year deal worth $31.5 million. It includes $20 million in guaranteed money.
Signing Mathieu for just over $10 million a season is a bit more realistic for the Steelers than $15 million a year (or more).
Especially when it’s likely going to cost $6 million to $7 million a year to sign Edmunds.
Suddenly, this seems doable for the Steelers.
Now that we know Mathieu isn’t chasing money — he’s chasing the right situation — it comes down to which team he’d prefer.
The Saints have hometown appeal, but that franchise is going nowhere this year.
Pittsburgh or Philly could be Mathieu’s best chance to win in 2022. I think Mathieu would prefer Pittsburgh over Philly because of Tomlin. If the money is close, I’d bet on Mathieu choosing the Steelers.
There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh has interest at the right price. Is $10 million a year the right price? I think it has to be close. The Steelers are a smart organization. They know Mathieu is never going to sign for the same deal as Edmunds, which tells us they are viewing Mathieu’s market realistically. And that seems to point toward $10 million a year being a number that Pittsburgh would be comfortable with.
It’s been a wild offseason so far. At this point, Mathieu somehow ending up with the Steelers wouldn’t surprise me.
Featured image via Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports