One of the most recent victims of the NFL offseason cuts is the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is a former defensive back of the Arizona Cardinals who was released today due to an inability to come to an agreement on a restructured contract. He will be a great fit for a team looking to bolster their secondary or provide a spark for a stagnant back end. Those who have watched the Green Bay Packers over the past few seasons have seen the latter. The idea of Mathieu coming to America’s Dairyland should get Packer fans salivating for these reasons:
1. The Packers desperately need help in their secondary
The Packers recently traded cornerback Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns for Deshone Kizer and long-time safety Morgan Burnett is no longer under contract. There seems to be a reason new general manager Brian Gutekunst was willing to part ways with Randall and look other directions than Burnett. That option could quite possibly morph into the 5’9″, 190-pound Tyrann Mathieu.
2. Mathieu provides dynamic abilities the Packers could utilize
Mathieu has the ability to play cornerback and roll back to safety without a hitch. He is primarily a safety, but he has quite a bit of experience covering receivers in the slot. Mathieu has an exceptional ability to play in all coverages which is evidenced through his 11 interceptions and 41 passes defended in 66 career games. He also provides a physical run-fit and surprise rush off the edge as he has provided over 65 solo tackles in four of his six seasons as well as a sack in every year other than 2014.
3. For his experience, Mathieu is very young
Mathieu has been in the NFL for 6 years, yet he is only 25 years old. He still has mileage left on him which is appealing to any franchise, but the Packers are in desperate need of talented, experienced youth. With the plethora of defensive backs with 3 or fewer years of experience in Kevin King, Quentin Rollins, Josh Jones, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins, Marwin Evans, and Donatello Brown, Tyrann Mathieu could be an example on how to navigate the highs and lows of the National Football League. He already fits right in with fellow safety HaHa Clinton-Dix as a fierce competitor in the back end which could spark a special combination between the two.
4. Tyrann Mathieu is a winner
With a winning record in all but two of his seasons with Arizona and two playoff appearances, Mathieu has a pedigree of winning. Even in his two-year stint with LSU in college, he was a major part of the team’s SEC Championship and BCS Championship run. Essentially, Mathieu has been an integral piece to the success of teams he has been a part of in his career.
5. The Packers can continue their newly found aggressiveness
Other than a few major splashes with Martellus Bennett, Julius Peppers, and Charles Woodson, Green Bay has been known to have a lassie faire attitude when dealing with free agency under former general manager, Ted Thompson. So far, that has not been the case for Brian Gutekunst who took over the reigns this offseason. The Packers have already gone out and signed defensive end Mo Wilkerson and tight end Jimmy Graham who were both considered to be highly touted free agents in the 2018 NFL offseason. With the subtraction of longtime wideout, Jordy Nelson, from the payroll and possible restructured contracts and releases to follow, Gutekunst is showing he is willing to be aggressive to assemble the team he sees as a contender. Mathieu noted in a text message with Ian Rapoport, “I am ready for the new challenge! Ready to take my spot as top DB! Fresh starts are good!” This message shows a willingness to compete and be a leader for his team which would be right up the Packers’ alley.
There are a number of options for the Packers in the secondary aside from Tyrann Mathieu. They could wait for the draft to draft young talent that will be around for a while, sign veterans like Mike Mitchell, William Gay, Kenny Vaccaro, and Eric Reid who are all looking for a home, or lock up Morgan Burnett and roll with what you have. These are all options to be had by the Packers, however, the idea of Mathieu roaming the back end of the defense or locking up a slot receiver is a tremendous upgrade over what has been in Green Bay in recent history. All in all, Tyrann Mathieu would just make sense with the tone the Packers have set this offseason. Super Bowls are key and both Green Bay and the Honey Badger are hungry for one.