When safety Tyrann Mathieu was released by the Arizona Cardinals about a year ago, he had options where he could have made more money than the one year, $7 million deal he eventually inked with the Houston Texans. However, Mathieu wanted to do two things — play for a winner, and bet on himself for a bigger payday in free agency in 2019.
Whether the Texans won to the level where Mathieu feels fulfilled on the former criteria, only he knows. An 11-5 record and a division championship are fine, certainly better than about two thirds of the league. As for the latter criteria, the wager Mathieu placed on his own skills and makeup, it would appear that part is going to ultimately be a success.
Amid the beginning of the NFL's legal tampering period in free agency, which begin at 11 a.m. Monday (contracts can be officially signed Wednesday afternoon), per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Mathieu Era in Houston will end after one season, with the Honey Badger taking his talents to Kansas City:
Earlier in the day, it was reported by Albert Breer of The MMQB.com that the Texans had made a decent offer to Mathieu in an effort to retain his services:
The Texans offered S Tyrann Mathieu a long-term deal in excess of $9.5 million per year to stay in Houston, per sources.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 11, 2019
Team wants to keep him. He'd like to stay. He'll test the market first.
I'm fairly certain the Texans were expecting Mathieu to hit the market, and make no mistake, for what Mathieu was last season — a good, but not great safety, whose signature "big play" ability was about a B- all season — $9.5 million is certainly a fair offer. However, I doubt that even in their worst case scenarios did they expect the market to rise to $14 million per season for Mathieu. Good for him, and good for the Texans in recognizing a market rising too high.
With Mathieu moving on, there are no shortage of safety options in the marketplace, led by former Seattle Seahawk and Texas native Earl Thomas, who is coming off a season-ending leg injury. Other options include Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kenny Vaccaro, Adrian Amos, and LaMarcus Joyner. Bringing back Kareem Jackson is not an option, as he agreed to a 3 year, $33 million deal with the Denver Broncos, ending his nine year run with the Texans.
Texans Re-sign DT Angelo Blackson
Angelo Blackson's Wikipedia page reads like the classic back end of the roster, NFL journeyman. Fourth round pick by the Titans in 2015, and then bouncing around the league for a couple years. However, since being signed off the Patriots' practice squad in November 2017 by the Texans, Blackson has found his footing as plugger in the middle of the defensive line, a run stopping cog on one of the league's best run defenses. On Monday, Blackson was rewarded for his improvement and hard work:
#Texans and DE Angelo Blackson agreed to a 3-year, $12m deal, source said. Blackson played in 40% of the defensive snaps last season.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 11, 2019
Left un-signed from #Texans DL: Christian Covington, Joel Heath (RFA), and Brandon Dunn.
Restricted Free Agency Tenders Offered To K Fairbairn, LB Scarlett, DT Heath Signs 1-Year Deal
Here are the other Texans news items, relative to their own free agents:
Texans issue $2.025 million restricted free agent tender for linebacker Brennan Scarlett, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 11, 2019
Team expected to hold onto all of its RFAs
#Texans give $3.095 million restricted free agent second-round tender to kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 11, 2019
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OL Trent Brown Heads To Oakland On $66 Million Deal
Offensive line is perhaps the Texans biggest area of need, especially considering the ongoing health of quarterback Deshaun Watson is the most crucial element of the team's roster. The free agency market for capable offensive tackles was already thin when 11a.m. hit yesterday, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the biggest offensive line jewel was off the market about a half hour into the free agency period:
Former Patriots’ OT Trent Brown intends to sign a four-year, $66 million contract that includes $36.75 million guaranteed with the Oakland Raiders, per source, making him highest paid OL in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2019
So, it you were someone hoping the Texans would make a splash on the offensive line in free agency, think again.