KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year ago Chiefs general manager Brett Veach tried to bring safety Tyrann Mathieu to Kansas City as a free agent, but couldn't find the money. This offseason, however, Veach found the necessary resources for the Honey Badger.
The Chiefs agreed to terms with Mathieu on Monday, a source confirmed to Chiefs Digest. The three-year deal is for a reported $42 million. Free agent players currently have a window to negotiate with clubs, but cannot sign until 3 p.m. central time Wednesday at the start of the new league year.
Veach said following the start of free agency in 2018 the Chiefs reached out to Mathieu about join the club.
“If we could make the money work, sure," Veach said in March 2018.
Mathieu instead signed a one-year, $7 million with the Houston Texans, hoping to land a better deal in this year's free agent class, and he appears to have done just that. He ranked as the No. 21 safety overall by Pro Football Focus last season, and ranked as the fifth-best safety on the free agent market this season.
The 26-year-old Mathieu entered the league as a third-round draft pick for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. He has 13 interceptions, four forced fumbles and 394 tackles in his five-year career.
Safety appeared a question mark for the Chiefs entering the offseason, but Mathieu's addition clears up some of those concerns. The Chiefs have five other safeties currently under contract, including veterans Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen and Eric Murray.
The Chiefs drafted Armani Watts in the in fourth round of last year's draft, and he ended the season on injured reserve. The Chiefs also recently signed free agent safety Harold Jones-Quartey.
Two safeties from last year's squad remain unsigned. Ron Parker is an unrestricted free agent, and doesn't expect to return. Jordan Lucas is a restricted free agent, and it is unknown if the Chiefs plan to tender him a contract offer.
The addition of Mathieu does not preclude the Chiefs keeping their defensive leader in Berry. The two play different positions, with Mathieu playing free safety on the back end and Berry playing strong safety in the box.
Yet the Chiefs have a decision to make with Berry, who stands to count $16.95 million against the salary cap this season. The Chiefs could choose to cut the veteran as early as Wednesday, and save $9.55 million against the cap this season by designating him as a June 1 release. The team would still absorb a $6.95 million cap hit this year and an additional $8 million in cap expenses next season.
But $7.25 million of Berry's $12.4 million base salary for 2019 becomes fully guaranteed on Friday. That money is already guaranteed for injury, and an additional $2.95 million is already fully guaranteed. If Berry remains on the roster Friday, he certainly will be on the team in 2019.
If the Chiefs do release Berry and designate him as a June 1 release, the Chiefs could gain $9.55 million in cap savings on June 2.