State of play as the NFL Draft approaches

As of now, Tyrann Mathieu remains a free agent on the open market, but as the NFL Draft approaches, teams may opt for a rookie over the veteran safety.

As surprising as the 2022 NFL offseason was, the hits keep coming. A blow to Chiefs fans (apart from the loss of Tyreek Hill) was the realization that the team would not tag veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu as a franchise tag and let him float into the open hand.

At first, it didn’t look like Mathieu would be around for long. There were rumors that Mathieu would be returning home to play for the New Orleans Saints, which wouldn’t be surprising: being close to home is a significant factor, especially for veteran players. Both Davante Adams and Bobby Wagner drove home that point recently when the two California natives signed with the (formerly Oakland) Raiders and Los Angeles Rams, respectively.

But nothing has materialized at the Saints, and Mathieu seemed to be turning his attention north to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have been rumored for weeks to have a vested interest in Mathieu, with reports that Mike Tomlin called him and that both Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark wanted to call him up. The recent signing of Karl Joseph could mean Mathieu is sidelined, but it could also mean the Steelers are looking for capable insurance at each position before settling on Mathieu.

With only about $13.5 million in available cap space, Mathieu could be the final piece in the Steelers’ secondary puzzle – but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported, “Some teams I speak to are concerned that Mathieu might take a step.” lost because he played nine years, a lot of mileage.”

With the NFL Draft on April 28, Mathieu’s situation could change drastically if he is not drafted. While it’s hard to imagine the three-time First-Team All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion remaining from an NFL roster, the more likely situation is that the NFL draft will have Mathieu’s financial impact and his demise would affect high.

How will the NFL Draft affect Tyrant Mathieu?

While there’s no guarantee Mathieu will end up with the Steelers, it’s the organization he’s been most associated with in recent times, which has implications for how the organization could draft in 2022.

FanSided’s Rucker Haringey reckons the Steelers could take a safety in the fourth round with Kerby Joseph, but Joseph has mostly played on free safety and there are doubts about his “tackling prowess in the box”. So if the Steelers took him then it’s so unlikely he would go to free safety.

However, safeties are historically undervalued in the NFL draft, evidenced by the fact that the unanimous pick for the top pick to enter the draft, Kyle Hamilton, is unlikely to be the No. 1 pick overall. Whichever team lands, Hamilton won’t sign Mathieu, but the undervalued position also means teams that need help with safety may not have to spend their highest picks on that position. Joseph is still a top-10 safety according to forecasts but is expected to go into the fourth round.

The Steelers have the No. 20 overall pick, the No. 52 and the No. 84, giving ample opportunity to draft a safety if the team needs one. Or maybe the Steelers are waiting to see how the draft plays out to sign Mathieu.

The NFL draft means some teams will certainly meet their safety needs rather than sign Mathieu, limiting the pool of teams he can join. However, with the Steelers appearing to be the only team left in the running, the players they pick could have the biggest impact on how Mathieu and his future contract are affected. State of play as the NFL Draft approaches

John Verrall

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