KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyrann Mathieu arrived at training camp on time and practiced Wednesday as the Kansas City Chiefs worked out as a full team for the first time ahead of the 2021 season.
Mathieu, an All-Pro safety in his first two seasons with the Chiefs, is entering the final year of a $42-million deal he signed in 2019, but he’s determined not to let his contract status upend Kansas City’s pursuit of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.
“The most important thing is not letting anything become a distraction,” Mathieu said. “The only thing on my mind right now is getting off to a fast start, making plays and continuing to lead my group. Anything else takes away from who I am.”
Mathieu — better known to fans as “The Honey Badger” for his devil-may-care style and “The Landlord” for the “rent” he regularly collects from opposing offenses — has racked up 137 tackles, 10 interceptions and 21 passes defended in 31 games with the Chiefs.
He’s also emerged as the fiery leader of Kansas City’s defense.
“Tyrann’s the ultimate professional and really has been his entire career in the league — and definitely during his couple years with us,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said.
Mathieu’s production and nearly $19.8 million salary-cap number for 2021, according to Over the Cap, made him a prime candidate for an extension during the offseason, making it a bit surprising that the Chiefs enter camp without the centerpiece of their secondary signed beyond the upcoming season.
“Most players would like to have things done before they get to the season, but I’m all about ball,” Mathieu said. “I love ball, so it’s important for me to stay focused on that.”
But does it bother him not to be unsigned beyond 2021?
“I’m not disappointed at all,” Mathieu said. “I think most people that know me, they know I love to play football. So, I have another chance to do that. It’s all about my teammates; it’s all about the guys around me.”
Still, he remains confident an extension will get done — something Hunt and Chiefs coach Andy Reid signaled was likely as well.
“I’ve heard Tyrann say that he would like to extend his career in Kansas City, and we feel the same way about that,” Hunt said. “Hopefully, that will work out. The timing is obviously uncertain.”
It may require making Mathieu the highest-paid safety in the league, but that’s not at the top of his mind.
“He said it when he came here, ‘I just want to play,’” Reid said. “That’s where he’s at. He loves it here, and he just wants to play.”
The Chiefs are Mathieu's third team. He was Arizona's third-round pick from LSU in 2013 and spent his first five NFL seasons with the Cardinals before playing with the Houston Texans in 2018.
Mathieu's 23 career interceptions are tied for 13th among active NFL players.