KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) – Tyrant Mathieu and Frank Clark watched the AFC championship game on TV a year ago. Their teams dropped out of the playoffs and didn’t think for a moment about what the next 12 months might mean for them.
Or more precisely, where it could take them.
But after the Chiefs watched their defense against the patriots in overtime and they had the chance to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in almost five decades, coach Andy Reid began a major overhaul of the unit. He replaced long-time coordinator Bob Sutton with Steve Spagnuolo, who had thrown the aging and unproductive players overboard, and then asked general manager Brett Veach to involve some legitimate playmakers to better fit their new scheme.
So Mathieu and Clark ended up in Kansas City.
The Chiefs signed a three-year, $ 42 million contract to put his talent and boast behind their backs. A month later, they exchanged a package of draft picks for Clark with the Seahawks, and then signed a five-year contract for $ 105.5 million before the Prellpass ruser had thwarted them.
Now the two not only live in Kansas City, but also play there for an AFC championship.
“A great opportunity to play in Kansas City and around the world,” said Mathieu on Wednesday before the first practice session to prepare for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. “Being on this stage is everything you work for, especially for myself. I’m in my seventh year and I’m going through what I’ve been through in my career. To be in this position is a blessing. “
Strong security of the Kansas City Chiefs bully Mathieu (32) tries to set fire to the domestic crows against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half of an NFL soccer game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo / Reed Hoffmann)
Mathieu makes more money each year than in any other season of his career, and Clark is now one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. However, both seem to be a wise investment for a club with a lousy history of large orders.
Eric Berry has never followed the $ 78 million six-year deal signed in 2017 and has played three games over the next two seasons due to injuries. Justin Houston played in just 32 games in three seasons after signing a $ 101 million six-year deal in 2015, which was the second richest for a defensive player in NFL history at the time. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe had 117 catches, but only five touchdowns in two seasons after entering into a five-year contract for $ 56 million in 2013, and quarterback Matt Cassel was only 19-28 years old after $ 63 million and six years in 2009.
No wonder the Chiefs are so happy with the production that Mathieu and Clark supplied.
But her road to Kansas City – and all that wealth – was full of obstacles.
Mathieu was an outstanding security at the LSU before a series of drug arrests torpedoed his college career. Once, after being arrested in 2012, he told an Arizona television station that he was considering suicide. And when Mathieu got his life in order and the cardinals took a chance on him, there was a risk of injuries to his professional career.
He turned that over too. Mathieu helped the Texans reach the playoffs last season and then landed his contract in Kansas City, where he immediately became the leader of not only the secondary, but the entire Chiefs defense.
“That’s who he is,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “He doesn’t have to be anything other than himself. He goes out there every day and because of his attitude alone he leads other people. His game speaks for itself, but just as it can be great every day, it spreads as a team. “
Clark has a remarkably similar story on the way to Kansas City.
He was also kicked out of his college team, although Michigan did so after a domestic violence incident. And when Seattle gave him a chance, Clark avoided the drama until an ugly social media incident that involved a television reporter.
Defensive end of Kansas City Chiefs Frank Clark (55) celebrates in the second half of an NFL playoff football game against the Houston Texans on January 12, 2020 in Kansas City (AP Photo / Ed Zurga)
However, the chiefs insist that they exercise care before acting for him, and Clark has avoided trouble and helped Mathieu steer her revised defense deep into the postseason. Clark had three sacks of Deshaun Watson in his comeback win over Houston last week, including one in which he sniffed twice and walked about 40 yards before finally overthrowing the Texas quarterback.
“He is adamant. This one sack tells you the whole story, ”said head coach Andy Reid. “He ran around to chase him, missed him twice, got up and released him. So he is wired. “
This is how Mathieu and Clark are connected. This is an important reason why they have so far resisted the NFL trend by honoring their massive contracts and helping the chiefs return to the AFC championship game.
They won’t see it on TV this time.
“It’s great,” said Clark, “but our goal is not just to get there, but to win everything.” It is a game at a time. But it would feel good to bring this trophy, the AFC championship title, home – that would mean the world to us. “
NOTES: Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones (calf) did not train on Wednesday, although Reid said he would improve. Jones missed the game against Houston last week and should be questionable on Sunday. “He’s a tough boy,” said Reid. “It’s not a matter of pain. It is, however, that he can play to the best of his ability. That’s what we’re looking at.” RB LeSean McCoy and QB Matt Moore have illnesses on Wednesday not trained.
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