Mathieu to join Chiefs for 3 year deal

The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a $42 million, three-year deal with safety Tyrann Mathieu on Monday, continuing what is expected to be an aggressive offseason overhaul of their leaky defense.

Two people familiar with the deal confirmed the move. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot become official until Wednesday, when the new league year begins and free agents can sign contracts.

The 26-year-old Mathieu was selected by Arizona in the third round of the 2013 draft after a standout career at LSU. He showed glimpses of his ball-hawking, playmaking abilities with the Cardinals, earning a Pro Bowl selection during the 2015 season, but also dealt with his share of injuries.

He tore ligaments in his left knee in 2013 and right knee in late 2015.

Mathieu signed a $7 million deal with Houston last season and wound up starting all 16 games. He tied his career high with 89 tackles, added three sacks and had a pair of interceptions, and his versatility — able to cover like a cornerback and tackle like a safety — is clearly appealing.

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“It’s a passing league and everyone is trying to create mismatches in the secondary,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “Just when you think you have enough corners you have to start moving them to safety, but I certainly think you are starting to see that trend of guys projecting corners to safeties and getting as many cover guys on the field as possible.”

The money the Chiefs intend to give “the Honey Badger” is roughly what they freed up Sunday, when they released pass rusher Justin Houston after failing to drum up trade interest in him.

Houston was due $15.25 million this season and carried a salary cap hit of $21.1 million, and the decision to release him freed up about $14 million. That allowed the Chiefs to actively pursue Mathieu while still giving them enough salary cap space to address other areas of their defense.

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The Chiefs are switching from a base 3-4 defense to a 4-3 system under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and that means some of their old personnel doesn’t quite fit. The Chiefs used the franchise tag on top pass rusher Dee Ford, but they continue to listen to potential trade offers.

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