Tyrann Mathieu doesn't want to play for any other team than the Kansas City Chiefs.
It's not uncommon, particularly at this time of year, for a player to champion staying with his current team for the long haul as a contract season beckons.
For Mathieu, however, he has flourished in other jerseys, but the relationships he's built and clearly the comfort and happiness he's found is something he wants to last. Thusly, the multi-time Pro Bowler has no designs on moving on from Kansas City if he has a say, and where he plays will outweigh how much he's paid.
"It's probably top of the list," Mathieu said Thursday via team transcript when asked how much of a desire it was for him to conclude his career in K.C. "It's been everything I've asked for. As for me, I feel like I can play football anywhere, but when you develop certain relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life. So, coach Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo), coach [Dave] Merritt, [head] coach [Andy] Reid, coach Barry Rubin, our strength coach, all these men have been important to me, so I can't see me ever walking away from that relationship. I've been through a lot in my life, so for me I think holding onto certain relationships, I think that kind of outweighs any monetary thing, any short feeling or emotion I may be dealing with in the moment."
Due $14.55 million in base salary this upcoming season, Mathieu is entering the last year of his contract. The 29-year-old Mathieu is currently the fifth-highest-paid safety in terms of total value at $42 million and sixth in average per year at $14 million. While still playing at a high level, it's questionable that the perennial Super Bowl contenders would present Mathieu with another lucrative deal.
The franchise's face is certainly stumping for him, though.
"He's such a great leader on this team and obviously a special football player," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said Thursday. "You want him to be here for the long run and you can tell that Chiefs Kingdom is really behind him as the leader of that defense and a leader on this team. Definitely want him to be here as long as he can and as long as I'm here."
With Mahomes' landmark contract set to keep him in Kansas City through 2031, that might be a bit of a stretch, but it's nonetheless a ringing endorsement.
Still yet to hit 30, it's been a long and winding football road traveled for Mathieu and lends more credence as to why he doesn't want to move on from his current home.
A star in college at LSU, Mathieu was dismissed for violation of team rules ahead of his junior season and later entered a drug rehabilitation center.
After a year away from the football field, Mathieu was drafted by the Cardinals in 2013 and was a staple in the Arizona defensive backfield for half a decade, but was ultimately released when a contract restructure couldn't be agreed upon.
Signed to a one-year prove-it deal with the Texans, Mathieu very much proved himself to be a top-tier safety and went on to sign a three-year pact with the Chiefs, making it three teams in two conferences and three divisions in three seasons.
Though the Chiefs are rightfully lauded for their stellar offense, Mathieu has been a Pro Bowler two years running. With Mathieu piloting the defensive backfield, the Chiefs have reached back-to-back Super Bowls. It's been a stellar fit.
Mathieu attributes much of that to the coaching staff. So, when he was asked if the coaches had made him a better player, he gave them credit for helping him inside and outside the lines.
"I think I'm a better person to begin with," Mathieu said. "For me football comes fairly easy, but I think when you have certain men in your life that are trying to coach the person as much as they are coaching the player. Anytime you have an athlete, the mental part of the game is so big for an athlete. I think if any athlete could find the right mental space, I think all of our games could really go to a new level. So I think for me, obviously I love football, but I think having certain guys around me, mentally it clears my head to focus on the things that are in front of me. Kudos to my coaches for taking the time out to coach the person just as much as the player."