With the 2022 NFL Draft now little more than a week away, the Pittsburgh Steelers do have one glaring hole in their starting lineup, at the strong safety position. With each passing day, it is becoming less and less obvious that they will fill that hole before rookies start hearing their names called—whether they intend to or not.
It certainly has appeared as though that was their intention. They have been attached at some point this offseason to at least four free-agent safeties, including their own, Terrell Edmunds. The most notable is of course All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu, who is among the most significant remaining free agents.
The Kansas City Chiefs opted not to re-sign him this offseason, instead signing Justin Reid, a younger option, to a three-year deal worth a bit over $10 million per season. Mathieu said that he was heartbroken over their decision and that he “probably” would have taken that same deal to stay in Kansas City.
He also said that he has spoken to the Steelers this offseason, or at least he talked about how cool it was to get a phone call from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin trying to recruit him. And yet, in spite of that direct from the source, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic wrote of Mathieu to Pittsburgh, “Forget Honey Badger, because I don’t think they have an interest”.
It’s certainly an odd thing to say, coming in response to a question submitted by a subscriber about if they were waiting for the draft to add a safety or if they are just waiting for the free agents to make their decisions, given that we already know from Mathieu himself that he has heard from the team.
Even Bob Labriola, among the Steelers’ website’s primary writers, acknowledged that the team has interest in Mathieu, the question being whether or not their price range and the player’s price range are in the same ballpark. Labriola’s claim was published only a day earlier than Bouchette’s.
It’s not the greatest look for such a seasoned reporter as Bouchette to say that he doesn’t think the team he’s covered for many decades has an interest in a player in which they have clearly expressed an interest, but, I suppose, it happens.
Of course, having an interest in a player and getting him signed often don’t coincide. Bouchette did add that he thought Edmunds would have been re-signed by now, and that it could still happen. The fifth-year safety has evidently recently deleted his Twitter profile for unknown reasons.
Ultimately, his response to the question was not very informative, and in fact to the contrary, providing incorrect speculation. We know they have had interest in Mathieu. Adding that maybe Edmunds may be re-signed or that they may draft a safety, but that either way they need to add somebody to start, only leaves us where we started.