This week I posed the following questions:
Based on Tyrann Mathieu’s 2018 performance as a Houston Texan to this point, do you...
1 - ...want the Texans to re-sign him, assuming his contract will be in the upper-tier of guaranteed money for a safety (and regardless of his play, you KNOW this will be a requirement for his agent, at least as a starting point); and
2 - ...think the Texans actually WILL bring Mathieu back?
Let’s see how the Masthead reacted, starting with my own thoughts.
GREAT QUESTION, CHRIS, I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED.
This is a tough one. I do sincerely want the Texans to re-sign Mathieu. I’m not typically one to place a ton of value on anything beyond skill and talent, but I do think Honey Badger’s leadership is a very real thing. Players love him, gravitate to him, and this reputation seems to be league-wide. In that way, he’s basically the Deshaun Watson of our defense.
On the field, for a Houston Texans safety, he’s been amazing. For a safety safety, he’s been good! I’m a big fan of Mathieu’s, but as a Texans fan I’m also damaged when it comes to safety play, because we’ve had a whole heaping mega-ton of poor safety play over the years, save for Glover Quin, Danieal Manning, and here and there bits of Andre Hal. Mathieu has stayed healthy to this point, and I think it’s fair to say he’d be better next season with a full year and second camp in Romeo Crennel’s system under his belt.
Yet I’m not sure the Texans will bring him back. I would assume the team would want to focus first on corner/safety combo Kareem Jackson, but maybe I’m underrating Mathieu’s locker room and leadership effect. All of us can hypothesize about its impact; the only people who actually know are the coaches and players, period. Add to that rookie Justin Reid is just absolutely killing it for the Texans right now on the back-end, and Hal remains a capable contributor.
So bring Honey Badger back to Houston, Brian Gaine! But... you know... also Kareem Jackson, more offensive line help, corner help, another speed-burner receiver who isn’t prone to injury. While you’re at it I’d love a new MacBook Pro, some cash to remodel my kitchen, and a stock guru. I’ll wait.
Titan Matt Weston
Tyrann Mahieu is fine. He tackles pretty well, ranges around the field, and is good at playing the robber position. If Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt draw enough attention he can get to the quarterback every once in a while. Compared to previous iterations of him in Eddie Pleasant or AFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH Quintin Demps, it’s nice not having an abysmal garbage sack slowly tearing apart until it unleashes a mound of tuna cans, bottom of beer bottle dribble, and egg yolk holders playing strong safety.
Mathieu isn’t great though. He gives off this perception that he is. He can’t cover tight ends without holding them, his two interceptions came after running backs dropped passes, his four sacks were free paths, and he can’t deal with any blocking whatsoever. Throughout all of this is interrogating the referee after obvious holds, breaking a pinata open after 12 yard tackles, getting in opponent’s faces after missing tackles, and creating this illusion that he’s better than he actually is. The most Tyrann Mathieu thing ever is him begging for the ball after Aaron Colvin recovers it only to take it out to the three yard line before being tackled. Me saying he sucks, orhis shitty, is just rhetoric convulsed out of me after hating every person I’ve been around like this. He’s fine. Not great. He just wishes he can make the plays Justin Reid can make.
So, no, I don’t want Tyrann Mathieu to resign here. He isn’t good enough to warrant $10 million a year. He’s just tricked everyone into thinking he’s worth this much. Someone will. Some safety desperate team like the Colts or the Chiefs may give him it. I just hope it isn’t Houston. With Andre Hal, Reid, and possibly resigning the better at doing the exact same things Kareem Jackson, the Texans would be better off using their cap space on a position they desperately need like cornerback (sssss), or right tackle, or upgrading from JAGS at defensive end, or a second running back, or tight end, instead of using it on him.
I don’t think Brian Gaine will either. He’s been a smart general manager. Giving a mediocre player a bunch of money doesn’t seem like the type of thing he’s interested in doing.
I do “want” the Texans to re-sign him, given the propensity for injuries across the defensive secondary each season. Imagine how absolutely screwed Houston would be if he wasn’t on the roster this year “if” Andre Hal couldn’t/didn’t return from illness and the fact that Kareem Jackson had to move back to corner due to injuries to Kevin Johnson (for the season/career?) and Johnathan Joseph (here and there each game). Depth at defensive back is critical in today’s NFL, especially with all the nickel and dime packages needed each game.
I “think” the Texans will bring him back for the reasons I stated above. This Houston team is ripe for a championship run over the next 3-5 years, and that will give Mathieu motivation to take a lower-paying contract here versus testing the market just for a payday elsewhere.
Sure, Mathieu is annoying when he celebrates what looks like an average performance on a given play, but he’s also a VERY supportive teammate and vocal leader who helps get the defense lined up with last-minute adjustments. I’d like to see him improve in overall coverage, as his instincts (when wrong) are devastating to the back end of the defense. That will come with more time in R.A.C.’s system.
Mathieu had a hard time finding a multi-year contract last offseason after being released by an atrocious Arizona squad. I don’t think his play this year warrants the kind of contract for which he is searching.
I would not sign him for upper echelon money, not at all. If he wants to come back at a mid-price range to make a run, fine, but I wouldn’t see him as being better than any of Justin Reid, Kareem Jackson, or even Andre Hal. Ron mentions depth, and that’s what I see Mathieu as being.
Do I think the Texans sign him? I’m gonna weasel and say I don’t have any feel about how Gaine operates. Again, I don’t think watching him play all year is going to help Mathieu’s case, so I lean no. Ultimately, as it often does, it will come down to the money.
Mathieu is still young (he’ll play 2019 at 27 years old), but he’s got a lot of mileage on his body. Bob Sanders comes to mind.
I definitely think the Texans want to re-sign him. Not only has he played well, I think he’s also impressed them with his versatility, his leadership (not many free agents become instant captains), and his instincts. Other than picking up a few ticky-tack holding penalties, I don’t know that I can think of any plays he’s clearly been a detriment on this year.
The real sticking point to your question is top tier money. My guess is that this isn’t a huge deterrent to Gaine, but as BFD said, we don’t really know how Gaine operates on top free agents. We can infer that he values safety play by moving Jackson there in spite of CB depth and drafting Reid. We don’t know if Gaine will pop in the guaranteed money that it’s going to take. I would lean towards yes because the Texans have money to burn. But that is just an educated guess.
Do I want the Texans to re-sign him based on this criteria? No. The emergence of Justin Reid, combined with the resurgence of Kareem Jackson, has left the Texans without want when it comes to the safety position. I don’t think Mathieu is a bad player. He has had good and bad moments, but those moments are offset by the fact that the Texans’ secondary is still running Cover Four, which makes good players look mediocre and bad players look horrific. That said, I haven’t yet seen a reason based off his play to justify giving him a large contract in line with some of the top players at his position.
Will the Texans re-sign him? This one is a little bit trickier. I do believe that the Texans will re-sign Kareem Jackson. At what cost is the question. What that looks like could greatly determine any potential deal for Mathieu that the Texans might be able to muster. The Texans are running three safety sets more and more, with 75% of the Texans’ defensive snaps so far this season including Mathieu, Reid, and Jackson. The Texans clearly like three safety sets right now. The question is whether this is because of their lack of cornerback talent and depth; once the offseason sets in and they are able to hopefully address that concern, how much money do you want to invest in the position? Andre Hal is still on the roster and taking up a decent amount of cap space.
Now the Texans could cut Hal, which would free up space, but that’s an IF I’m not sure is likely. I can see Mathieu coming back. It’s just a luxury, and I’m not sure if the Texans are looking for that right now.
I want Tyrann on this team. He brings energy, leadership, and an aggressive tone to the defense. You can just feel it in his play and leadership - he is at home on this defense. I think he could play here the rest of his career if you asked him. He is close to home, surrounded by talent, and he can play the game his way.
Salary cap wise, it is completely up in the air. Teams need to have four safeties they can rely on. I would be fine paying Mathieu in the 12-15th highest paid safety range. Top ten is too much. The Texans have the salary cap to keep him, so I don’t see what the big deal is with keeping him or losing him. If anything, the Texans could sign and trade him for a draft pick.
Some see the success of Justin Reid as a reason to let Mathieu go, but I see it as a reason to keep Mathieu here. Why disrupt a budding player’s ecosystem? Kareem Jackson provides the knowledge. Mathieu provides the energy. Andre Hal provides the level-head. We all win in the end.
I think the Texans will re-sign Mathieu, but maybe not keep Hal or Jackson. They do weird things like that. If it were up to me, I would keep the whole lot. We have the space, we have the need, and the way the NFL is played today requires secondary players all over the field.
Imagine if they bring a second round cornerback into this room. They would be loaded heading into next season.
I hope they do resign Mathieu. He’s not Troy Polamalu by any stretch, but he has a fire and wiliness about him that makes Houston’s defensive backfield better. I’m sure a portion of Justin Reid’s success can be attributed to proximity to the Honey Badger, so why not lock that down and let the honey flow all over every young defensive back Houston signs for the foreseeable future?
As for whether they will, I’m hoping against hope new GM Brian Gaine has brought with him a level of wisdom and common sense that was missing for quite some time when it comes to free agents and re-signing players. I’d like to think Gaine never would have let A.J. Bouye out the door. But free agency is often a Twilight Zone of sorts in H-Town, so it’s hard to gauge what to expect at this point.
If I were emperor of the universe, Mathieu would be a Texan for years to come, along with Jadeveon Clowney, Kareem Jackson, and Andre Hal. But if I wore that crown, Houston would also have 17 Lombardi Tropies already, too.
I think on the field, Mathieu has yet to produce what we thought the Texans would get when they signed him. He’s getting a lot of praise because he’s a big name, but he is probably the third best DB on the roster this season behind Kareem Jackson and Justin Reid. Those two have balled out.
I think the Honey Badger should return if he agrees to do so at a reasonable price. Getting Jadeveon Clowney a contract is more important in my eyes. The team will likely have to make a decision in the offseason on whether or not the team would like to pay HB or Kareem. I hope they can find a way to pay both, but it just seems so unlikely.
It’s a tough call, especially when Kareem has been playing so well. However, I think Kareem’s play has elevated because of his impending free agency; if he were signed to a three-year deal that would keep him in Houston until he was 34, his play might drop off.
I think we’ve yet to see the best of Mathieu in a Texans uniform and he should be signed to a reasonable contract in the offseason.
Great discussion from the Masthead. I’m sure YOU have opinions as well. Put those bad boys in the comments section below, and feel free to tweet Tyrann Mathieu @Mathieu_Era to let him know we are all up in his business; I know he’s keeping an eye out for folks who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Honey Badger has the red-ass like that, which is one of the reasons I love the guy.