Days after the Cardinals released one of their best players, Tyrann Mathieu found a home 1,100 miles to the east when he signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Texans. It was a surprising development for several reasons: First, Houston didn't make our list of likely Mathieu landing spots, and second, Mathieu was expected to command a multi-year deal that would make him one of the league's highest-paid safeties.
In fact, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora tweeted Thursday that Mathieu was hoping to earn $11 million annually on his next deal. That didn't happen. And for now, he's a bargain for the Texans.
But there is a silver lining -- the one-year deal allows Mathieu to prove himself, hit free agency in a year where he can again try to land a long-term contract. There's also this:
"It's not all about money for me," Mathieu told TheMMB.com's Albert Breer this week. "I want to go somewhere where I can be completely immersed in football, and it's not too much about anything but winning -- I want to be a part of winning culture, where you feel that all the time. That's all I want."
And, it turns out, Mathieu reportedly took less money to play with the Texans, a team that struggled last year but will be dark-horse candidates to challenge the Jaguars in the division with the return of its two franchise players: Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watts, two players who missed most of last season with injuries. The Arizona Republic's Kent Somers tweeted Saturday morning that the Cardinals were willing to pay Mathieu $8 million next season and he declined to sign with the Texans.
Of course, it's all about perspective; If the do-it-all defensive back was still on Arizona's roster by March 16, that would have tied him to the Cardinals for the next two seasons -- and $18.8 million of his salary over the next two years would have become guaranteed. Apparently Mathieu wasn't interested in a pay cut under those circumstances, especially since the team had rewarded him in August 2016 with a five-year, $62.5 million deal.