New Orleans Saints’ Tyrann Mathieu didn’t crack the top-10 of ESPN’s safety rankings, but a former Saints player did. Cue the outrage.
Mathieu’s signing was met with widespread relief as the Saints finally secured a viable replacement for Marcus Williams, who joined the Baltimore Ravens this offseason.
In terms of fan appeal, Mathieu has already won the hearts of Saints fans as a homegrown star out of LSU and will hopefully end his career in NOLA. In terms of overall talent, however, Mathieu gets edged out by former Saints safety Marcus Williams, his much younger and sprier counterpart.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler polled the league on the top-10 safeties in 2022 and Williams unsurprisingly made the list at No. 8 overall.
Mathieu, however, was notably excluded and earned only a few sentences worth of an honorable mention:
"Sure, some voters saw some decline from Mathieu after nine postseasons in the league. But one member of a team’s personnel wonders if that’s overblown. “Who has better instincts than him?” the voter said. The Saints signed Mathieu to a three-year, $28.3 million contract this offseason."
Saints’ Tyrann Mathieu gets snubbed from top-10 safety rankings in 2022
We have no qualms about Williams getting ranked higher than Mathieu. The 25-year-old stud gave an incredibly productive five years to NOLA, totaling 15 interceptions and starting almost every game. Williams earned an overall Pro Football Focus grade of at least 74.0 in every NFL season, and his elite coverage skills are only slightly marred by his missed tackle rate.
Williams will get to build upon his solid career in Baltimore in 2022, and in his place Tyrann Mathieu stands as, apparently, not a top-10 safety in the league.
The former Chiefs star is entering his tenth season and offers a wealth of experience and big-play ability to a stacked Saints defense, and even in a league chockful of talented safeties, it’s perplexing to see him land outside the top-10. Mathieu boasts more consistency than Bucs’ Antoine Winfield and better value than Seahawks’ Jamal Adams, both of whom are ranked No. 9 and No. 10 respectively.
His only knock may be his age (Winfield is 23 years old and Adams is 26 years old), but the production is still obviously there. Two Pro Bowls, two All-Pros, and 13 interceptions in his last three seasons? Mathieu may be past his prime, but he’s far from turning into a dusty relic in the backfield.
Heading into 2022, Mathieu has large shoes to fill on the Saints and a statement to prove to all the young’uns in the NFL. Though he may not land among the league’s most elite safeties (for now), he’s still very much valued and beloved by New Orleans.