KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There was a quiver in Tyrann Mathieu’s voice.
He’s enjoyed his time with the Kansas City Chiefs since signing a three-year deal worth $42 million before the 2019 season.
He’s been an All-Pro twice, a Pro Bowler twice and helped the Chiefs reach two Super Bowls while emerging as a leader and key playmaker for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense during that time.
Mathieu’s also staring into the void of NFL free agency again after the sides couldn’t work out a contract extension in the offseason, leaving open the question of whether he’s played his final game with the Chiefs.
“I’m hoping it works out,” Mathieu said. “I don’t have any control over that. I feel like everything that was in my control, I tried my best to handle it and to do it with a smile. I love this team. I love this locker room. There’s a lot of coaches that I have great relationships with, so I’m hoping — yeah.”
Mathieu knows how special his time with Kansas City has been.
“I’ve been in this league for nine years, and not all the time do you have a chance to play for championships, plays for Super Bowls, to hang banners, to make the city proud,” Mathieu said. “Obviously, we fell short today, but there’s a lot of good to look back on.”
But his impact goes well beyond the field.
Mathieu continued his annual turkey giveaway through the Tyrann Mathieu Foundation and has been active with other community initiatives, becoming the Chiefs’ nominee for this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Mathieu’s fiancée, Sydni Russell, opened a boutique last year in Zona Rosa, and his kids have grown up in the Kansas City community.
He made it clear after Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game that he wants to remain in Kansas City despite the occasional social media fracas with fans.
“I hope so,” Mathieu said. “Ever since I came here, I’ve just tried to be the right kind of teammate. I tried to play my part. Obviously, you’re always left feeling that you could make more plays for your team.”
Technically, defensive end Frank Clark has two more years remaining on the five-year deal he signed in 2019 after a trade with Seattle, but the Chiefs can save nearly $20 million against the salary cap by cutting him (with a post-June 1 designation).
That opens the possibility that Mathieu and Clark, who were the central figures in the defensive makeover that netted Kansas City its first Super Bowl in 50 years, may not be with the Chiefs for 2022.
“Kansas City is home,” Clark said. “I bought a house here. My daughter goes to school and stuff here. It’s home, so I want to be here for the future, for the rest of my career. Unfortunately, the way business goes, things don’t happen the way you want them to happen all the time.”