A versatile playmaker hit the open market Wednesday afternoon when the Arizona Cardinals released defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
The New England Patriots should look into signing the LSU defender formerly known as “Honey Badger.”
Mathieu had a salary cap hit of over $14 million before he was released. He signed a five-year, $62.5 million contract extension in 2016, so getting Mathieu in New England could be a pricey venture. The Patriots have plenty of cap room after letting Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler leave in free agency.
Mathieu, 25, had 78 tackles with one sack, seven pass breakups, two interceptions and one forced fumble in 16 games as a safety and slot cornerback last season. The 5-foot-9, 186-pound defensive back has 308 career tackles with four sacks, 41 pass breakups, 11 interceptions and four forced fumbles in five NFL seasons since being selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Patriots have a need at cornerback, especially in the slot, where Cyrus and Jonathan Jones are expected to compete for snaps. The Patriots also could use a young, versatile safety.
Mathieu reportedly is expected to draw interest from the New York Giants and New York Jets, so it could take a bidding war to sign him.
The Patriots love versatility, and Mathieu certainly fits their athletic profile after running a 6.87-second 3-cone and 4.14-second short shuttle coming out of college.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Mathieu in the past.
“A very productive player, very athletic, loves football, competes hard, and he’s a tough kid,” Belichick said before the 2016 season. “He’ll strike you for his size. He’s not a big, imposing player but he plays with good physicality and toughness. He likes football. Yeah, he was impressive.”
Adding Mathieu could help Patriots fans forget about losing four fan favorites on the open market.