New Bucs Coach Todd Bowles Addresses Potential Tyrann Mathieu Signing

Tyrann Mathieu

Getty The Buccaneers appear dismissive on signing Tyrann Mathieu.

One of the top free agents remains a free agent heading into April.

Despite being considered one of the top players available entering free agency, 29-year-old Tyrann Mathieu remains a free agent. A number of teams have been rumored as a fit for the three-time Pro Bowler, but the veteran safety remains unsigned.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently lacking in depth at the safety position following the departure of starter Jordan Whitehead to the New York Jets. During Todd Bowles’ first day as head coach of the Buccaneers, he was asked whether or not Tampa Bay plans to pursue the “Honey Badger.” Bowles was rather dismissive of the idea, instead singling out the potential re-signing of Ndamukong Suh.

Via Greg Auman of The Athletic:

“Todd Bowles, asked if Tyrann Mathieu might give the Bucs a family discount in free agency, says they’re just trying to be able to get Ndamukong Suh back, before they can work on any more outside additions,” said Bowles on Thursday, March 31.

The Buccaneers signed veteran Logan Ryan early in free agency to counter the departure of Whitehead. However, the team is lacking in experienced safeties outside of Ryan and returning starter Antoine Winfield Jr.

Why Mathieu Doesn’t Make Sense for Buccaneers

While the idea of adding the top safety on the market seems like a great one, the fit doesn’t make sense for several reasons. For one, the cost of adding Mathieu seems to be too much for the Buccaneers.

As Bowles mentioned, Tampa Bay is attempting to re-sign Suh. The 34-year-old defensive tackle has earned between $8-to-$9.5 million per year during his three years with the Buccaneers. He’ll likely re-sign for somewhere close to that amount.

Outside of re-signing Suh, the other priority will be re-signing Tom Brady’s longtime teammate, Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has also earned around the same amount of money as Suh during his two years with the Buccaneers. He’ll likely re-sign for something similar.

At the current moment, the Buccaneers have a little under $8 million in available cap space. That’s not factoring in the cost of the incoming rookie draft class following the 2022 NFL draft.

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Why Bucs Will Ultimately Pass on Mathieu

According to Spotrac, Mathieu’s market value is $14.8 million per season. For perspective, only two players on Tampa Bay’s roster has a cap hit that exceeds that number — Brady and Donovan Smith.

There is little doubt that Mathieu’s ceiling is high based upon his history. According to Pro Football Focus, the nine-year veteran posted an 81.6 grade in coverage as recently as the 2019 season with the Kansas City Chiefs. That grade ranked Mathieu No. 11 among all safeties in the league.

That’s not even mentioning his clear playmaking ability when it comes to forcing turnovers — 13 interceptions over the past three seasons alone — and his versatility when it comes to playing in the slot as a cornerback. Despite playing primarily at strong safety, Mathieu saw 206 snaps as a slot cornerback in 2021, 365 snaps in 2020 and 483 snaps in 2019.

However, the fit when it comes to a salary cap perspective just isn’t there. The Bucs have higher priorities in re-signing Suh and Gronkowski, which leaves virtually no money to offer Mathieu.

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