KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Justin Reid spent one season playing with Tyrann Mathieu in Houston, then replaced him as one of the leaders of the Texans defensive backfield when the three-time All-Pro safety signed with the Chiefs.
Three years later, Reid is replacing Mathieu again — this time in Kansas City.
The 25-year-old safety signed his three-year, $31.5 million free-agent contract with the Chiefs on Thursday, making official a deal that was reached earlier this week. The contract includes $20 million in guaranteed money.
“I had a few options,” Reid said. "The financial bit does play a role, but you take that away and it comes down to the fit and the culture and the opportunity in front of you. I wanted to play for a championship-caliber team, I wanted to fit in a defense that played to my strengths. It really felt right. I slept on it one day and came back to it.
“In the back of my mind,” he said, “the bottom of my heart, Kansas City was the best situation for me.”
Just as it was for his predecessor.
Mathieu is also a free agent this offseason after anchoring the Chiefs' defensive backfield the past three years. It was a run that included his two most recent All-Pro nods along with three trips to the AFC title game, two trips to the Super Bowl and the first championship for the organization in 50 years.
But rather than bring back Mathieu, who will turn 30 in May and demand a significant contract of his own, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach opted for a younger option with potentially his best years ahead of him.
“I have always said this: A copy is never worth as much as the original. There will never be another Tyrann Mathieu to come through Kansas City,” Reid said, “but I can bring the best Justin Reid possible to Kansas City. That's my mentality. I'm going to play to my strengths, play to who I am, and we're going to play great defense.”
Reid was a third-round pick of Houston in the 2018 draft and had been one of the few reliable players for the struggling Texans over the past four seasons. He has started 53 of 57 games, including 13 last season, when he made 66 tackles along with four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
He's hoping to replicate that success in Kansas City while also taking on Mathieu's leadership role. In fact, Reid asked for headshots of everyone else on the Chiefs roster so he could begin to put faces to names.
“It's something I want to do,” he said, “but at the end of the day, that's not something just given or appointed to someone. That's something earned in the locker room. ... I want to be able to shake everyone's hand in the locker room, know them by name. I want to earn these guys' respect. I want to prove to them I can be a leader.”
The Chiefs would like to add some pass rush help along with another wide receiver in free agency, but they've already had to get creative with a tight salary cap situation.
They restructured the contract of defensive end Frank Clark to save at least $11 million this season, and an extension for wide receiver Tyreek Hill also could carve out some cap space.
The only other moves the Chiefs have made have been modest: Backup quarterback Chad Henne is returning on a $2 million deal for next season, while backup offensive tackle Andrew Wylie is returning on a $2.5 million contract.
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