Here’s what we know so far, or at least what we know mixed with what we think we know, when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their search for a strong safety to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick. The team was reported to have narrowed the field down to three players—Tyrann Mathieu, Damontae Kazee, and their own, Terrell Edmunds.
Reportedly, the Steelers have a standing offer on the table for Edmunds, but he has not agreed to the deal yet. Perhaps he is still hoping that a better offer will arise. Perhaps he is even willing to wait until after the draft.
We also know that the Steelers’ interest in Mathieu is genuine, because he himself mentioned it, talking about how cool it was to get a recruiting call from head coach Mike Tomlin himself. We know that Mathieu has been down in New Orleans, had a meeting with the Saints, and expressed interest in playing for his hometown team. But we also know he hasn’t signed yet.
According to Ben Mintz of Barstool Sports, a deal doesn’t particularly sound imminent, either. While Mathieu recently said in an interview that this free agency process isn’t about trying to become the highest-paid safety in the league, he isn’t accepting of the Saints’ current best offer.
“My sources telling me the Saints are trying hard to make Honey Badger deal work but he’s not accepting a home town discount at this point of his career”, Mentz wrote on Twitter, adding that the situation is still to be determined.
The Saints have had a particularly complex salary cap situation this year, having used just about every means at their disposal to massage their final number as best they can while still being active players in free agency.
They have already restructured pretty much every sizeable contract that they have on the books, so there isn’t much meat left on the bone there. If they were to sign Mathieu to a deal he would play under, they might have to resort to void years.
The Steelers, on the other hand, do have the cap flexibility to fit a reasonable Mathieu contract onto the books, even if they were to be willing to go as high as about $10 million. It would not in any way preclude them from being able to get an extension done with Fitzpatrick, either.
Outside of Pittsburgh and New Orleans, it’s not clear how many other teams may still be in the market for his services. There are certainly teams out there who could still use a safety, but the names haven’t really been out there.
It may be just a matter of Mathieu accepting where his market value is at this point in his career, going into year 10 and set to turn 30 years old. Reportedly, some teams are concerned that he has lost a step. But he would still be an upgrade for most teams in the league.