After being unable to coax defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (a.k.a. the Honey Badger) to take a pay cut, the Arizona Cardinals have released the ultra-popular (and wildly successful) defender:
Statement from GM Steve Keim on the release of safety Tyrann Mathieu. pic.twitter.com/TeV5CcRLIc
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) March 14, 2018
Mathieu joins a free agent safety class that features some intriguing possibilities such as Eric Reid, Tyvon Branch, and possible Bears target Morgan Burnett. And even though the Chicago Bears’ secondary seems set at cornerback (Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller) and safety (Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson), when a player of Mathieu’s caliber becomes a free agent at age 25, you have to ask if there is any way he can fit on your team, no matter where it is in the competitive cycle.
In short, yeah, there is a fit for Mathieu on the Bears.
For the sake of brevity, just know that Mathieu has been a playmaking, impact defender throughout the duration of his career. He has come up with multiple interceptions in three of his five seasons and the Bears could certainly use a player with his elite level of talent.
Mathieu is listed as a safety, but that’s just a technicality. Honey Badger is a defensive mismatch across the board with multi-position versatility. He has speed, deep coverage skills, man coverage ability, a willingness to tackle against the run, and a non-stop motor. Mathieu has ball skills that have resulted in 11 turnovers, four forced fumbles, and a recovery.
Because Mathieu is a young, talented, and gifted player with leadership skills, 31 other NFL teams should have their defensive coordinators pounding the table to bring him into the fold. Especially Vic Fangio, whose defense values the ability to move around the defensive set in order to defend the pass, help against the run, and even provide a timely blitz off the corner.
If the Bears have an interest in Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett, a flexible defender in his own right, then it’s fair to conclude the team should probably be in on Mathieu, a younger version with even more upside.