The Buccaneers are suitors for talented safety Tyrann Mathieu. Tampa Bay should attempt to reunite the former All-Pro with his former coach.
Tyrann Mathieu can become the cornerstone of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive rebuild in 2019.
With Mathieu’s relationship to Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and the team’s need for an elite defensive back, it is a match made in heaven.
Mathieu plummeted down NFL Draft boards before the 2013 Draft after former head coach of the LSU Tigers Les Miles kicked Mathieu off of the team.
Questions about his character and ability to handle himself at the NFL level surrounded the talented prospect. The one coach that was willing to take a chance on Mathieu was Bruce Arians, who was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals at the time.
Arians has always been willing to give players second chances, and it appears to have had a significant impact on Mathieu’s career. In his six-year career, Mathieu has stayed out of the spotlight and developed into an All-Pro level safety.
Mathieu played at a high level with the Houston Texans in 2018 and will enter free agency in March. Although he recently displayed interest in returning to Houston, he will be a hot commodity once the new league year begins.
With his connection to Arians and the team’s hole at the safety position, Mathieu should be a target for Tampa Bay this offseason.
To this day, Mathieu has respect for Arians. Take a look at his recent tweet about Arians’ new staff.
The connection between the two should be enough to link the Bucs to Mathieu. However, that is just the beginning as to why the Bucs should be involved in the Mathieu sweepstakes in the coming months.
From an on-field perspective and a financial perspective, Mathieu landing in Tampa Bay could be a reality.
The Buccaneers need a star defensive back. Out of the entire 2019 free agent class, Mathieu may be the best one available. He had an All-Pro nod to his name back in 2015 and was the star of the Texans secondary in 2018. He racked up 89 combined tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, and a pair of interceptions.
No member of the Bucs secondary came anywhere close to those numbers. Adding a playmaker and leader to the defensive backfield could be the difference for what was one of the league’s worst defenses last year.
Tampa Bay allowed points at will. A young secondary was hung out to dry, and it showed. The Bucs only managed 17 takeaways on the year, a brutal mark that needs correcting in 2019.
Mathieu would fit in seamlessly in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles‘ defense. Bowles worked with Mathieu for two seasons in Arizona. Plus, Tampa could use help all over the field. They need a safety that can play centerfield and help in run support at the same time. Luckily, Mathieu can provide both.
Among safeties that played at least half of their team’s defensive snaps, Mathieu had the fourth-highest run defense grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
From a financial standpoint, the Bucs can certainly move money around to sign the Honey Badger. At the moment, Tampa Bay has about $16 million to play with, according to overthecap.com.
Currently, the Buccaneers would be hard pressed to snag Mathieu. However, Tampa Bay could move money around and cut a few players that are not living up to their paychecks.
One plan of action that could make sense would be to move on from aging star Gerald McCoy. A staple along the Bucs front for a decade. But McCoy’s best seasons are behind him. He will be the second-highest paid defender on the roster next season, set to make $13 million.
That’s quite the investment for a player that may have similar production to Vita Vea next season, who came on at the end of the 2018 campaign. Moving on from one star could lead to the acquisition of another one.
There is also a chance that Mathieu’s contract may not break the bank as front offices around the league were not kind to free agent safeties last offseason. At just 26-years-old, Mathieu signed only a one-year, $7 million deal.
If that trend continues in 2018, the Bucs may be able to land the LSU product for a bargain price.
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