It was another wild Friday afternoon/evening in the NFL.
Within hours of the Chicago Bears moving quickly to match the Packers' offer sheet for Kyle Fuller, a flurry of activity occurred, headlined by former Arizona Cardinals All-Pro DB Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu signing a one-year deal with the Houston Texans.
Mathieu, 25, can earn up to $8 million on his one-year deal, according to the Houston Chronicle, after being released by Arizona just two years into a massive contract earlier this week. That he took only one visit after being released by Arizona and settled for a one-year commitment by Houston indicates that teams likely have reservations over the long-term health of Mathieu, who has torn both of his ACLs since arriving in the NFL in 2013. He was a defensive MVP candidate in 2015 prior to suffering his second serious knee injury as a pro, and he'd rebound to lead the NFL in defensive snaps last season, but he's yet to recapture his unique and tenacious playmaking ability.
But Mathieu arriving in Houston, where he was recruited by former three-time Defensive MVP J.J. Watt, is certainly fascinating. Watt is recovering from back surgery, but the star power the pair boasts, in addition to Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, ups the ante on what was already one of the league's more talented defenses.
Add in Deshaun Watson, attempting to return from his own knee injury that halted a special season like Mathieu's three years ago, and there will be no shortage of story lines regarding the perseverance and potential of a team that had Super Bowl aspirations on the heels of back-to-back division titles before crashing amid the NFL's worst injury epidemic to 4-12 a year ago.
The Texans recently signed former Jacksonville Jaguars nickel CB Aaron Colvin to a big-money deal, and re-signed 34-year-old Johnathan Joseph. It'll be interesting, then, to see what role Romeo Crennel envisions for Mathieu, who, at his best can play every position in the secondary; can he recapture that dynamism and help resuscitate the NFL's worst pass 'D' and his own career and parlay it into another shot on the open market next spring?
Cardinals land Pugh
Our biggest concern with the signing of immobile QB battery Sam Bradford-Mike Glennon, save for the insane guaranteed money Bradford curiously received, was Arizona's languishing offensive line.
But GM Steve Keim landed a major protection boon Friday in Pugh, the versatile former New York Giant, who reportedly signed a five-year, $45 million deal to anchor the Cardinals' rebuilding up front. Pugh, who turns 28 in camp, might've had to wait for the silly money to be doled out in free agency to secure his deal because he missed the fnal eight games last season with a back injury.
Pugh, the former first-rounder and All-Rookie in 2013, had an up-and-down Giants tenure. He looked like he was headed for stardom coming off that rookie year, but was slowed by the back and a knee injury the year prior. Still, if he regains his health, he's a huge addition and gives an aging group some much-needed fresh blood alongside fellow first-rounder, LT D.J. Humphries.
LG Mike Iupati restructured recently and remains in the Cardinals' mix, but it'll be interesting to see where they plan on playing Pugh. If it's right tackle, former Pro Bowler Jared Veldheer is likely on the way out. Either way, counting on Bradford to stay on the field behind a great line, never mind a sieve like the Cardinals have had the past few seasons, is foolish. Credit Arizona for securing the last potential difference maker on the vet market.
New Detroit Lions RB LeGarrette Blount has ten 100-yard rushing performances since a Lion last pulled off that feat. But all due respect to Blount, his one-year $4.5 million deal seemingly reflects just how desperate Detroit is at the position.
Blount signed for roughly half that amount with the Super Bowl champs each of the past two seasons. Reuniting with Matt Patricia in Detroit, where Matthew Stafford hasn't had a noteworthy run game since, well, ever, makes sense from a fit standpoint. But paying a 31-year-old back with zero receiving value $4.5 million? We get it that Detroit needs some attitude on the ground, especially in short-yardage (19th in goal-to-go and 32nd on fourth down) where several games were lost last year.
But this was a lavish purchase by a GM who kicked the tires and ultimately passed on a younger Blount in Bob Quinn's first offseason in Detroit. Now he's paying a premium ahead of a special RB draft class, and we're not entirely sure why.