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May 03, 2022

Tyrann Mathieu Signs with Saints

The Honey Badger is coming back to the Bayou. Tyrann Mathieu is reportedly set to sign a three-year, $33 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. This move significantly helps a New Orleans secondary that lost Malcolm Jenkins to retirement and Marcus Williams in free agency. The Saints are still ensconced as the second favorite to win the NFC South behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the move.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NEW ORLEANS?

This move highlights that the Saints are looking to continue being competitive in 2022. There were many observers that thought New Orleans would rebuild after the retirement of Drew Brees and Sean Payton due to their salary cap issues, but they continue to shell out money in free agency.

After three decades of bad football, New Orleans has continually been in the playoff hunt since 2000. The Saints have won at least seven games in 21 of their last 22 seasons, making this one of the most successful franchises in the 21st Century. 

In the past couple seasons, New Orleans has doubled down on its intention to still be a playoff contender by signing multiple players to five-year contracts. Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas have all signed five-year deals worth AAVs north of $11 million, and the deals for Lattimore, Ramczyk, and Thomas are all close to $20 million annually.

The Saints were led by their offense for years with Brees at the helm, but it’s the defense that is winning games for this franchise now. New Orleans ranked fourth in total defense in 2020 and seventh in total defense in 2021, and the Saints ranked in the top five in scoring defense for both seasons.

They boast one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in Lattimore, and they signed Marcus Maye to a three-year deal this offseason to pair with Mathieu at safety. Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport are both elite defensive ends, so this defense figures to be one of the best units in the league once more.

There are some major concerns on offense for the Saints. Jameis Winston, who is a Comeback Player of the Year favorite, wasn’t great under center despite a nice touchdown to interception ratio before he suffered a season-ending injury last year, and Alvin Kamara was not nearly as effective as defenses keyed on him after Michael Thomas missed all of the 2021 campaign after only playing seven regular season games in 2020. Rookie receiver Chris Olave should help, but betting the Under in New Orleans games early in the season is probably a wise move. 

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