Jets Insider Endorses Polarizing Free Agent: ‘Get Saleh on Line 1’

Tyrann Mathieu

Getty Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu on November 21, 2021.

As we approach the different stages of the NFL offseason, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has a lot of decisions to make.

Not only must he choose which positions to target, but he must also determine when to revamp them. For example, the Jets most likely need one or two starting safeties this spring but do you look to fill that void in free agency or the draft?

Some fans want do-it-all prospect, Kyle Hamilton, while others think you target a veteran to man the back-end of this young defense. If Douglas goes with the free agency route, one potential candidate is Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.

The ‘Honey Badger’ has a championship pedigree as a proven on-field leader and former captain with the Chiefs. He’s also performed at a high level for a long time with three All-Pro seasons before age 30.

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Beat Reporter Writes Recruitment Pitch

New York Daily News beat reporter DJ Bien-Aime is very vocal on Jets Twitter and even though he’s a Miami Dolphins fan, he had a suggestion for Robert Saleh this offseason — go and get Mathieu!

To first explain the backstory, Kansas City fans have begun to feel discouraged about the superstar’s return in 2022. On January 26, there was an interesting exchange after Mathieu responded to a fan.

Fan 1: “Chiefs fans that don’t want Tyrann Mathieu to stay are crazy. He is still playing at an amazing level, this isn’t madden where players regress at 28.”

Mathieu: “They’ll be happy sooner than later.”

Fan 2 screenshots: “I’m pretty much giving up on the idea of [Mathieu] being back and I’m so sad about it.”

That’s where Bien-Aime came in, relaying: “Get Saleh on line 1.” He even had a suggestion for the recruitment speech from the Jets HC: “Kansas City isn’t treating you well? Come to NYC. You know you’ll be appreciated here. I know Joe D [is] cheap but I’ll tell him to drop the bag on you. You saw what I did to Mahomes in the Super Bowl until Jimmy G tricked it off. All gas no brakes brother.”

To be fair, the Honey Badger clarified his comments later that night, responding: “I was just saying whoever is upset with me it won’t matter cause it’s championship szn. It’s a time to celebrate and enjoy. For All! It’s time to win it all!”

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Is Mathieu a Match?

The defensive playmaker could still re-sign with the Chiefs but he’s definitely a candidate to hit the open market. Back in December when the NFL leaked the projected salary cap, Mathieu made it clear that he’s looking to get paid the amount he deserves.

He’s turning 30 in May, after all, so this could be the last big contract of his career. KC doesn’t have as much cap flexibility as a team like the Jets and Mathieu’s not really a franchise tag candidate either — because of his age and position — making his availability more conceivable than a player like Cincinnati Bengals star Jessie Bates III.

So, hypothetically, if Mathieu hits free agency, should Gang Green try and sway him to come to the Big Apple?

From a Saleh perspective, the Honey Badger makes plenty of sense. Ever since 2017, he’s been as dependable a player as there is with one missed start over his last five NFL campaigns. Mathieu is also a locker room leader and culture changer that is quick to challenge his defense when it’s underperforming.

From a Douglas perspective, this theory comes off the rails a bit. Although teammates rave about Mathieu on the field, he tends to become a distraction when he’s off it due to his overactive social media presence. At the same time, he is currently a strong candidate for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award because of his charity work so it’s not all bad.

The best word to describe him is polarizing but in a city like New York, that’s not always the best trait.

More importantly, he’s projected to cost somewhere around $46.125 million ($30M guaranteed) split up over a three-year deal — per Pro Football Focus. Douglas may not want to allocate that sort of money to a safety that’s technically leaving his prime football age.

Based on his major signings from 2020 and 2021, it’s more likely that the Jets GM targets a rising star in Marcus Williams. The New Orleans Saints are on the cusp of a major rebuild, so the 25-year old safety might be available too.

Either of these options would become an immediate starter that could help mentor those around them — something this wide-eyed secondary could use in year two under Saleh. A proven winner at cornerback or safety could certainly help with that.

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