2018 NFL Contract Projection: Free Agent Safety Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu Measureable

– Height: 5-9
– Weight: 186
– Age: 25
– Experience: 5 NFL seasons
– Accolades: 1-Time Pro Bowl; 1-Time All Pro

Tyrann Mathieu Profile

Mathieu doesn’t fit in the box of either a cornerback or a safety; he’s both. He can line up anywhere and excel. Since being drafted in 2013, Mathieu is one of two players (CAR Luke Kuechly) with 10+ interceptions, 40+ passes defensed, and 15+ QB hits.

Mathieu excels in coverage yet plays the run game with the savagery of a safety. He’s a problem to block in the open field. Mathieu’s 2015 film is all that needs to be watched to realize his potential: being one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He displayed the physicality to compete and cover players far bigger than himself.

Unfortunately, Mathieu’s 2015 ended with the 2nd ACL surgery (one on each knee) of his career. Injuries have hindered Mathieu’s career, and in the NFL, availability is the best ability. However, he managed to play 16 games last season.

Although not to the level of his 2015 campaign, Mathieu’s lack of production over the last two seasons do not truly reflect his on-field performance.

Mathieu will only be 26 years old at the start of the 2018 season. His injury history will worry some teams, but his skill set on will allow Mathieu to cash in on free agency again.

Tyrann Mathieu Production

Season G Tack Miss Sack QBH TFL FF FR INT PD Def Rate
2013 13 67 7 1 3 6 1 0 2 9 82.6
2014 13 38 8 0 4 2 0 1 1 4 93.2
2015 14 89 13 1 3 11 1 0 5 17 78.7
2016 10 35 5 1 1 3 1 0 1 4 115.8
2017 16 74 8 1 4 6 1 0 2 7 81.8
Totals 66 303 41 4 15 28 4 1 11 41 86.5

Safety Market

The safety market this offseason is thin, and there wasn’t a game-changing player out there once the Rams tagged Lamarcus Joyner (a similar hybrid like Mathieu). That changed when Mathieu was released today. In 2017, Eric Berry set the market and Reshad Jones became the 3rd-highest paid safety in the league. Safeties aren’t valued like their secondary counterparts, but the top of the position isn’t as far as one might think (KC Berry, $13.0M APY & WAS Norman, $15.0M APY).

Top 5: $11.95M
Top 10: $10.37M
Top 32: $7.00M

Player Comparables: KC Eric Berry, MIN Harrison Smith, MIA Reshad Jones

Contract Comparison

Player Year Length Total APY GTD Full GTD 2018 APY
Eric Berry 2017 6 $78.0M $13.0M $40.0M $29.8M $13.8M
Harrison Smith 2016 5 $51.3M $10.3M $28.6M $15.3M $11.8M
Reshad Jones 2017 4 $48.0M $12.0M $35.0M $19.9M $12.7M
Averages   5 $59.1M $35.3M $34.5M $21.7M $12.8M

2018 Cap Adjusted Annual Salary: $12.8 million

Statistical Comparison

Mathieu’s ball production has decreased some over the past two seasons (both interceptions and passes defensed). However, when at his best, Mathieu’s impact is felt in the stat sheet and on the field.

Player Years Tcks INT PD FF FR Def PR Burn %
Eric Berry 2015-16 69 3 9.5 0.5 91.6 57.9
Harrison Smith 2014-15 78.5 3.5 6 1 65.3 58.5
Reshad Jones 2015-16 93 3 7 0.5 70.1 56.8
Averages   80.2 3.2 7.5 0.5 0.2 75.7 57.7
Tyrann Mathieu 2016-17 54.5 1.5 5.5 1 92.2 66.9

Tyrann Mathieu Leverage

When Mathieu signed a 5-year, $62.5 million extension in 2016, he still had a year left on his rookie contract. Multiple bidders are the benefit of the open market.

Salary Floor: $10 million APY

If Mathieu doesn’t like his market, it’s possible that he takes a one-year, prove-it contract that may fall in this range. However, it’s hard to see him having to settle for less than eight figures a season due to his ability and potential.

Salary Ceiling: $13.5 million APY

Eric Berry remains the highest paid player in the NFL. If a team really covets Mathieu’s services, it’s plausible that it offers enough to allow Mathieu to usurp Berry in that top spot.

Contract Projection

A short-term deal, due to both the CBA expiring in 2020 and Mathieu’s ability, might be what’s in the works. If Mathieu believes in himself (as most great secondary players do), signing a short-term deal and hitting free agency again on the right side of 30 years old will maximize his future earning capacity. $12.5 million per would make Mathieu the 2nd-highest paid safety (by APY) in the NFL.

3 years, $37.5 million, $12.5 million APY, $20 million guaranteed, $12.0 million fully guaranteed

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