Considering the team’s current salary cap situation, this seems to be a long shot, at best. With saying that, it also should be noted a very similar song was sung prior to the regular season last year when the team acquired Joe Haden.
The analysts and talking heads said he would ask for too much money, and next thing you know he is meeting with Mike Tomlin and signing on the dotted line.
So, what does it take for Mathieu to come to Pittsburgh? A couple things, actually. He would have to take a deal which has a very team-friendly cap hit, at least for the 2018 season. On top of that, the team would have to feel he is back to his 2016 self, before injury saw his game decline in 2017. Lastly, the Steelers have to be a place Mathieu wants to go, in hopes of winning a Super Bowl.
This was ultimately what lured in Haden, and considering the state of the Cardinals the past few seasons, he might view Pittsburgh as his best chance to get to the promised land. Mathieu described what he is looking for in a future home when texting with Albert Breer of the NFL Network:
Texted with ex-Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu on what he's looking for in his next destination: "I wanna go somewhere where football and defense matters." Said he'd love to go to a place where he can immerse himself in the game, and a culture of winning.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 14, 2018
This certainly got the attention of one member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. None other than Cameron Heyward. See his response to Breer’s tweet:
Tell him to give me a call lol— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) March 14, 2018
Heyward isn’t the only one who has openly been discussing Mathieu potentially coming to the Steel City. Keion Adams posted this image on his personal Twitter page:
It is exciting to think about a play maker like Mathieu coming to Pittsburgh to help the team in an area of need, but there are so many aspects of this equation it could make one’s head spin. The Steelers could, and should, be all-in for the upcoming season, but at what cost? Do you jeopardize your financial future even more just to bring in one player who hasn’t been the same the past two seasons?
Love or hate Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their grading system, this is a good visual of Mathieu’s play since 2013:
The Steelers took a risk on Haden, who battled injuries in Cleveland before coming to Pittsburgh, and it paid off. Could they pull off a similar deal with Mathieu, a place he could re-invent himself? Only time will tell, but I’m sure the Steelers are at least putting out their feelers to see just what the ‘Honey Badger’ is expecting financially in free agency.