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New Orleans native Tyrann Mathieu takes step toward achieving goals with two-year extension to remain a Saint

'To have another opportunity to suit back up with these guys, help this whole city win, that means a lot to me'

Check out photos of New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu in action throughout the 2022 season.
Check out photos of New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu in action throughout the 2022 season.

Tyrann Mathieuon Thursday took another major step toward accomplishing the goals he set for himself when he joined his hometown NFL team, the New Orleans Saints, as a free agent in 2022.

First, the Honey Badger came closer to the possibility of retiring as a Saint, courtesy of reaching an agreement on a two-year contract extension that will keep him a Saint through 2025.

"I hope so," Mathieu said Thursday. "But I would probably say more than that, I've got another chance to help these guys win. I'd say the last couple of years have kind of been underwhelming, to say the least. So to have another opportunity to suit back up with these guys, help this whole city win, that means a lot to me. So I'm excited about that opportunity."

Second, Mathieu, who earned the franchise's Walter Payton Man of the Year award last season, will be able to further contribute to his hometown. He had a year remaining on his initial deal before extending.

"I've made a lot of money in this league, I like the situation I'm in with the Saints," said Mathieu, who tied for the team lead with four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), defended nine passes and had 75 tackles. His 33 interceptions since entering the league in 2013 are tied for the most in the NFL during that time.

"I think I've come along in the system – for me, that's exciting," he said. "And I think where I'm at in my life today, I would have just taken a one-year deal, took some off the top, but I love to be in New Orleans. I love to be around family, I love being able to be in the community, and not have to live out of town and come back in for a weekend or two. I'm here. That means a lot to me. I still feel like there's a lot more for me to do in the community, so just having that extra year to do all of the things that I really want to do while I'm home, that was really important to me.

"As far as the community-related things go, I feel like there's so much more for me to do. I think if I'm able to do the things that I really want to do in the community, I think a lot of people will remember me for that. And that would be more than a blessing, that'll be more than enough.

"I'm pretty sure I still have some Honey Badger fans, but I'm really hoping I can leave a lasting impact in the community. I hope I'm one of those guys that people remember and say, like, 'Man, he always gave us his time. He always shared. Whatever he had, he was always willing to give to someone less than." That means a lot to me, and I think I still have an opportunity to achieve some of those goals that really have nothing to do with football."

The on-field football goals so far have come up short, with the Saints winning seven and nine games during his two seasons and failing to advance to the playoffs in either year. But Mathieu's production increased in his second year, a trend he expects to continue. He had three interceptions in Year 1, with eight passes defensed and 91 tackles.

"It was a different system from the ones that I was used to in the past," he said. "It took me a while to kind of get comfortable and to get going. But between the coaches and the players, all those guys were always supportive. Once I really began to kind of understand the system and the scheme, I started to have fun again. And I felt that last year.

"To be able to keep that rolling and feel even more comfortable going into Year 3 in the system, that's exciting to me because I know there's still a lot of football plays to be made. And I think I still have enough in me to make them.

"Realistically, we all could have played better. I think we all felt that we'd be much better as far as wins and losses. But I love the group. I love my teammates, I love the building, I love the coaches. I feel like we have everything we need; you kind of just go through some rough patches.

"But I know me personally – I believe in the coaches, I believe in the players in the locker room to help us turn it around. Because I do believe we have enough guys in our locker room that we could be a pretty good football team."

Mathieu, who has started all 17 games in each of his two seasons in New Orleans, willingly accepted a leadership role with the team upon his arrival.

"That's what it's all about, especially if you're a guy like me who's been beyond blessed," he said. "You want to see that happen for young guys, teammates, guys who become more than teammates. You want those guys to grow up and have a lot of money, have a lot of resources, have a beautiful family.

"That's important for me, because I always had guys in my huddle that were like that, that always inspired me to be better, to do more in the community, to raise my kids the right way. I hope and pray that I can continue to be a positive influence on the young guys as far as that goes."

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