Raiders 2022 free agency: Las Vegas in on Tyrann Mathieu sweepstakes
Mathieu and the Raiders are a great fit
If there’s one thing the Raiders’ new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham preaches, it’s versatility.
Not only can Mathieu play both safety spots, but he has experience as an insider corner as well. The slot corner piece is especially noteworthy, given head coach Josh McDaniels stated the Raiders’ starting inside corner, Nate Hobbs, will have a chance to get snaps on the outside this year. These plays will require someone to fill the void now left at slot, which is where the former Chief comes in.
His versatility doesn’t just come in the form of being able to play other positions – Mathieu gives a team some of everything. He’s an elite safety in coverage, but that’s far from the only thing he can do. Throughout his career, the LSU alumni has recorded 10 sacks and 25 quarterback hits. His 41 tackles for a loss also stand out, proving he’s a threat in the backfield against the run.
The safety dubbed as “Honey Badger” is one of the NFL’s best in coverage. In the last four years, there hasn’t been a season where he’s allowed 70%+ of passes his way to be completed, nor a passer rating in triple digits. Johnathan Abram, on the other hand, has never had a season where he’s allowed under a completion percentage of 79, nor an opposing quarterback rating lower than 111 (2019 not included).
Last week, the Raiders signed Duron Harmon, who’s able to come in as the third-safety in triple-deep looks. Truthfully, another coverage safety here could still go a long way. It’s not that Harmon is the problem; In fact, if Las Vegas doesn’t come away with Mathieu, they’ll likely be fine with the former Patriot alone. Abram, on the other hand, is still a cause for concern in any coverage set.
If you can get Abram out of the picture on passing downs, life is good. Of course, a player of this caliber would take the starting job regardless, being in on most downs as Mathieu’s 96.6% of defensive snaps played indicates.
Tying the bow on the coverage ribbon, Mathieu has 13 interceptions in the last three seasons, as pointed out early on. In 2020, he was able to come up with six; The same number of interceptions the entire 2021 Las Vegas Raiders team combined to record. This is a playmaking safety with excellent ball skills, that the Silver and Black need.
The Raiders brought in a very talented depth running back in Brandon Bolden, who is expecting big things from Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas.
Lastly, Mathieu is familiar with the AFC West. This may seem trivial to some, but comfort is key, and the current back-to-back Pro Bowler is both familiar and comfortable in the division. If the money’s right, staying in a place where you’re familiar with all three of your division rivals plays a big part in the final selection.