Buccaneers hurt by rival stealing perfect free agent option

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

It always seemed like Tyrann Mathieu was going to sign with the Saints and not the Buccaneers, but it still hurts to see the move actually happening.

Tyrann Mathieu and the Buccaneers always seemed more smoke than fire. The fit was there, the ties went beyond the game, but making the deal happen never really seemed like it was in the cards.

Mathieu is going to be expensive. Instead of going for the All-Pro on the open market, the Bucs made their future with the Honey Badger obvious when they signed Keanu Neal on a cheap free agent deal to join Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards.

All these signs made it clear that Mathieu wasn’t going to become a Buccaneer. We just wish that decision didn’t mean he was going to become a Saint.

Instead of signing with the Bucs, Mathieu instead chose to sign with their rival: the New Orleans Saints. Ian Rapoport reported today that the deal could be done in the next few days, and this one is going to hurt.

The Bucs are obviously still the much better team on paper (even if they do get swept in the regular season again), but the presence of Mathieu on an already-good defense is going to shake up the firm foundation that Tampa was building in the NFC South.

Even with a new head coach and a quarterback coming off a major injury, this Saints team is going to be dangerous. That group was already solid, especially on defense, and it is about to get much better with the Honey Badger heading back to the state where he made a name for himself.

The stage is set for the Bucs and the Saints to throw some haymakers en route to earning a playoff spot in this division. Tampa might even falter given moves like this. But the presence of Tom Brady and an extremely weak division outside of New Orleans should still put the Buccaneers in an easy spot to make some noise in the playoffs and beyond.

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