On Friday, NFL.com analyst Marc Ross picked five NFL players who deserve a raise in 2021. His unranked list included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams, along with Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter.
The fifth player he selected was Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Tyrann Mathieu • FS • Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs GM Brett Veach has already expressed his interest in getting an extension done for Mathieu, who’s been a staple in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense since his arrival two seasons ago. Having worked with Spags during our time with the Giants, I know how important a versatile safety is to his system and Mathieu has certainly fit the bill. The 29-year-old has allowed a 66.0 passer rating in coverage since 2019 (lowest among safeties and fifth in the NFL, min. 100 targets, per Pro Football Focus), and he’s been a first-team All-Pro in each of the last two seasons.
Mathieu is already one of the highest-paid safeties in average annual value, so this extension would be less about getting a “raise” and more about working out a long-term deal — similar to what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Shaq Barrett accomplished with his deal this offseason. A new deal would be beneficial for both sides.
Chiefs bias aside, I have to agree that Mathieu is one of a small group of NFL players who deserve a raise. And as Ross notes, it might not be a raise as much as it is an extension to keep him in Kansas City longer.
National analysts do well to focus on Mathieu’s on-field production during his two seasons with the Chiefs — but from our perspective, it is his leadership of the defense that seals the deal. Perhaps no other single player has been more responsible for the change in the defense’s attitude after coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took over in 2019.
As Pete Sweeney and I noted in this week’s Arrowhead Pride Editors Show podcast, it seems pretty clear that the Chiefs and Mathieu will come to terms on a contract extension before the season begins — perhaps even before training camp kicks off less than two weeks from now. But even if it doesn't happen, it’s also pretty clear that Mathieu intends to continue giving the team everything he has during the final year of his existing deal.
“I don’t consider myself a guy that necessarily does things for his own benefit,” Mathieu told reporters in June. “More importantly, I’m just kind of looking forward to continuing to be a Chief — continuing to help the younger guys around me, help the receivers [and] anybody I can to continue to get better. To be honest, I think that’s my focus; it should be my focus.”