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Tyrann Mathieu and Landon Collins are two NFL safeties, both in their mid-twenties and at the prime of their professional careers, each ready to start with a new franchise for upcoming the 2019 season.
These two New Orleans natives have each been named First-team All-Pro, have made it to the Pro Bowl and are both known for fierce tackling, occasional sacking and between the two of them account for 21 interceptions over their combined ten NFL seasons.
Odds makers have proposed an interesting bet which one of the two, Mathieu or Collins, will have the most interceptions during the 2019 season?
Here we examine both athletes gradual rise to NFL riches as well as take a look at the odds and predictions of which one will snag the most picks for their new teams in 2019.
Tyrann Devine Mathieu (also known as Honey Badger for his relentless work ethic and ability to get opponents to cough up the ball) is a 26-year-old NFL safety who was born in 1992 in New Orleans, Louisiana where he was a two sport athlete (football and track) for the St. Augustine High School Purple Knights.
During Mathieus senior season, he recorded 32 tackles, five interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery and was also considered one of the states elite long jumpers, his personal best a jump of 7.29 meters.
Rivals.com had Mathieu listed as a four-star recruit and the 13th best cornerback in the U.S. for the 2010 season.
Louisiana State University (LSU) offered Mathieu a scholarship to play football, which he accepted and made good on for two seasons.
In his freshman year, Mathieu started just one game but played in all 13, logging 59 tackles, 3 sacks and two interceptions on top of being named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the 2011 Cotton Bowl Classic.
After a sophomore season where he totaled 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries (2 of which he returned for touchdowns) and 2 interceptions, Mathieu became a Heisman Trophy finalist, was given the Chuck Bednarik Award and was named the MVP of the 2011 SEC Championship Game.
Right off the bat, Mathieus mother was absent and his father has been in jail for murder most of his life, so Mathieu was initially raised by his grandparents until his grandfather died, when he was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Tyrone and Sheila Mathieu.
After having been suspended for one game in 2011 following a violation of LSUs drug policy, Mathieu was dismissed from LSU in 2012 for violating the team rules, though the media reported that it was the result of repeated drug test failures.
In August of 2012, Mathieu entered drug rehab in Houston, then left a month later and enrolled back in classes at LSU, but that ended the next month when he and three other LSU former players were arrested on possession of marijuana.
The Arizona Cardinals took Mathieu in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the 69th pick overall, and they agreed to a $3.05 million four-year contract that included $818 thousand guaranteed and a signing bonus of $265 thousand.
In five seasons with the Cardinals, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Mathieu had 305 combined tackles (28 for loss), 4 sacks, 11 interceptions, 41 passes defended, 15 quarterback hits, 4 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
In 2016, Mathieu and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a total of $62.5 million with a $15.5 million signing bonus.
It came down to money, of course.
Mathieu had the fourth-highest salary cap hit ($14.1 million) on the Cardinals roster and when general manager Steve Keim requested a restructure of Mathieus contract, he refused to take a pay cut and he was released.
The Houston Texans and Mathieu then agreed to a one-year deal worth $7 million for the 2018 season, and Mathieu responded with 89 combined tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 quarterback hits, 8 passes defended and a forced fumble.
In March of 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs offered free agent Mathieu a three-year deal worth $42 million.
It includes a signing bonus of $14.8 million and works out to an average yearly salary of $14 million.
Mathieu will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Landon Alexander Collins, nicknamed Money when he was six by his dad Tom Collins (who was also his first football coach), is a 25-year-old strong safety in the NFL who was born in 1994 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Tom and mother April Justin.
Collins was considered a two-sport star at Dutchtown High School in Geismar, Louisiana (football and track) and as a sophomore played beside future NFLer Eric Reid and as a junior was selected 5A All-State after making 102 tackles and four interceptions.
As a senior, Collins was named a USA Today All-American as well as receiving All-State honors again, but this time on both sides of the ball, having rushed for 1,218 yards and 21 touchdowns on top of making 34 defensive tackles and four interceptions, two of which he returned for a touchdown.
In 2011, Collins was considered a 5-star recruit by both Rivals.com and Scout.com and was ranked the number one safety prospect in his class.
In a video gone viral, Collins chooses to commit to Alabama over LSU, with crowds cheering as his mother looks obviously upset.
Afterwards, she admits she prefers LSU for her son, and ever since there has been a rift between the two.
In three seasons at Alabama, Collins had 184 total tackles, 5 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 3 forced fumbles and 4 fumbles recovered.
Collins was living in Louisiana when a natural disaster struck.
Hurricane Katrina hit his New Orleans home in 2005 when Collins was about 9-years-old, forcing his family to move from their home.
The other challenge Collins faces is the source of tension that still remains between he and his mother for choosing Alabama over her LSU.
Also, Collins faced some controversy when he took a knee during the national anthem for a game following the presidents harsh words about NFL kneelers, but since then Collins, from a military family, remains standing during the anthem with a single fist raised in the air to make his silent, respectful protest known.
The New York Giants selected Collins in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the 33rd pick overall, after the Giants traded up seven picks in the draft to get him.
In four seasons as a Giant, Collins has had 428 total tackles, 8 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 4 sacks, 32 passes defended, 10 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumbles recovered.
Collins missed a game in 2017 due to a fractured forearm and missed four games in 2018 because of a partially torn rotator cuff.
Since Collins contract was up, the Giants would have had to either offer him a deal or assign him the franchise tag.
General manager David Gettleman is apparently clearing house in New York, though, and by releasing Collins to free agency he saves the $11.2 million in salary cap space a franchise tag on Collins would have cost.
Tough to replace what Collins contributes with a young, inexpensive draft pick, but it looks like thats the general plan for now.
The Washington Redskins were looking to strengthen their secondary after finishing their 2018 season with a passing defense ranked 15th.
So in March they signed Collins to a six-year deal worth $84 million, including a $15 million signing bonus and $26 million guaranteed.
Collins will not become an unrestricted free agent until 2025.
When you compare their 2018 stats side by side, Tyrann Mathieu seems to have the slight edge.
Mathieu had two more tackles than Collins and had 3 sacks and 2 interceptions to Collins nil in both categories.
Last season, Mathieu earned 170 fantasy points to Collins 145, but Mathieu played almost 250 snaps more than Collins that year due to injury.
If Collins can manage to stay healthy for the entire season, though, it could be a very interesting competition between the two hard-hitting safeties.
This is an interesting bet, because it pits two professional athletes against each other using the category that neither is likely to lead the league in.
Last season Collins had no interceptions and Mathieu had two, but the season before both players had two picks apiece.
As we like to say, dont bet what you dont have, but if youre going to pull some change out of your betting kitty for this one, looks like Mathieu is favored to win.
Good luck here are the current odds listed for 2019:
Caveat: Both players must play in game one for action to commence.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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