Should Ravens Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu is a hard-nosed player, a locker room leader and a playmaker.
In other words, he plays like a Raven.
Could the three-time Pro Bowler end up playing for the Ravens? Ravens Wire’s Kevin Oestreicher believes the team should pursue Mathieu, who is a pending free agent.
"Mathieu would provide a stable veteran presence who can do it all and play at multiple positions," Oestreicher wrote. "He is also extremely durable, a trait that Baltimore hasn't had out of many of their defensive backs over the last few years. He could be a bit pricey, but the investment would be worth it if Mathieu can come in and be another high-level chess piece for this Ravens defense."
Mathieu, 29, is a proven game-changer, something the Ravens lacked in the secondary in 2021 with All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters sidelined for the entire season.
Mathieu has nine interceptions over the past two seasons. The Ravens had just nine interceptions this season; only four teams had fewer.
The Ravens saw firsthand what Mathieu brings to a defense when they hosted the Chiefs in Week 2 last September.
On the third play from scrimmage, Mathieu intercepted a Lamar Jackson pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. He picked off another pass later in the first quarter when the Ravens were inside the Chiefs' 30-yard line, and he also had three passes defensed.
The Ravens reportedly had interest in Mathieu when he was a free agent in 2019. He ended up signing a three-year deal with the Chiefs for a reported $42 million.
"Mathieu could have been an option for Baltimore in 2019, but they elected to sign Earl Thomas III instead, something that didn't pan out for multiple reasons," Oestreicher wrote. "Now with the former LSU Tiger hitting the free agent market once again, the Ravens have a chance to correct their mistake."
Mathieu said after the Chiefs' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday that he hopes to re-sign with Kansas City.
"Sides attempted to get an extension done before the 2021 season but could not consummate the agreement," NFL.com’s Kevin Patra wrote. "Kansas City brass, however, has said consistently they hope to bring Mathieu back."
In looking at players who could sign contract extensions before free agency begins, Pro Football Focus projected a three-year, $46.125 million contract for Mathieu, with $30 million total guaranteed.
The Ravens currently have just under $8.6 million in salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com, but that's before re-signing exclusive-rights and restricted free agents and accounting for the upcoming draft class.
How Did Ravens' Safeties Perform This Season?
While Mathieu undoubtedly would be a boon to the defense, the Ravens' safeties were solid overall this season, Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed wrote in his review of the unit.
Here are some excerpts from what Reed had to say about each safety on the roster.
"One area where he showed the most improvement as the year went on was his ball skills. He made several plays and smart reads to break up and even intercept passes down the stretch after failing to do so consistently to start the year. Pairing him with a true ball-hawking free safety will likely be one of the team's top priorities this offseason so that he can be used in a more versatile role."
"The fourth-year pro was having an impressive start to the final season of his rookie contract before it was cut short by a torn biceps injury. It marked the third time he ended the season on injured reserve and may make re-signing him more affordable if both parties are interested."
"Elliott's injury forced the rookie third-round pick out of SMU into a starting role sooner than the team had envisioned when they drafted him but he gained a wealth of invaluable experience in his trial by fire of a first year. Stephens struggled with communication and recognition early on but was still able to make some clutch tackles short of the line to gain and pass breakups deep down the field."
"After appearing in just two games as a rookie, the 2020 sixth-round pick was rarely inactive and had a larger role on defense in year two. … Stone flashed the same dynamic playmaking ability in coverage that he showed in the preseason and will likely continue to see increased playing time in year three regardless of whoever else the team adds in the offseason."
"The nine-year veteran safety made plays in coverage, at and behind the line of scrimmage as well as on special teams. He will likely be a candidate to be brought back on a cheap deal at or slightly above the veteran minimum and could play a key role on defense in sub-packages as a dime linebacker."
"Even though he is listed at safety on the Ravens roster, Washington lined up in the slot at nickel cornerback during his limited playing time on defense. … He could be in line for a larger role in year two depending on what the team does this offseason in regards to their secondary."
Jim Harbaugh Reportedly Will Interview for Vikings' Head Coaching Job
There could be two Harbaughs coaching in the NFL again next season.
Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, the younger brother of Head Coach John Harbaugh, is going to interview for the Minnesota Vikings' head coaching job tomorrow, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.
Pelissero reported Sunday that the Vikings had an exploratory conversation with Jim Harbaugh Saturday afternoon to gauge his interest in the position.
The Harbaugh brothers coached against each other twice during Jim Harbaugh's stint as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens won both meetings — in Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season and on Thanksgiving in 2011.
Ravens Have 10th-Best Odds of Winning Next Year's Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is still nearly two weeks away, but the odds for next year's Super Bowl are already out.
The Ravens have been among the leading favorites to win the Super Bowl the past two seasons, but the oddsmakers aren't quite as high on their chances of winning Super Bowl LVII.
Baltimore (+2000) has the 10th-best odds, according to Caesars Sportsbook via CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo.
The Chiefs (+650) and Buffalo Bills (+700) are the top two favorites, followed by the teams in this year's Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams (+1000) and Bengals (+1200).