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First Call: Tyrann Mathieu says he got a call from Mike Tomlin; multiple theories on Bruce Arians’ latest ‘retirement’

A big-name free agent reveals that he has been in touch with the Steelers. We debate the reasons behind Bruce Arians’ latest retirement. Lamar Jackson is getting tested in Baltimore. Alex Goligoski just keeps on playing. And the New York Rangers just keep winning.

All that in Thursday’s “First Call.”


Tomlin and Tyrann

According to free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu, he has received a phone call from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

The extent and details of the conversation, he didn’t disclose. But during an appearance on “The Jordy Culotta Show,” Mathieu referenced a conversation he had with the Steelers coach.

Mathieu was explaining that he isn’t sweating over the fact that he is still unsigned, but admits it still gives him a spark when NFL coaches have reached out.

“Just being able to have this time with family, it’s cool,” Mathieu said. “But I still try to enjoy the process. It’s still cool talking to all coaches, the different coaches. Because some of these guys, I’m fans of. Mike Tomlin calling your phone. He’s like, ‘Hey, this is Mike T.’ Just being able to talk to these guys, it’s a blessing.”

The Steelers do have a need at one of their safety positions. Terrell Edmunds wasn’t kept as the strong safety next to Minkah Fitzpatrick, although he could be a cheaper option to return if the Steelers decide to avoid bringing Mathieu on board.

Mathieu is coming off of a three-year, $42 million contract he signed with Kansas City in March 2019. At the start of free agency, Spotrac’s market value calculations projected the “Honey Badger” to sign a contract in the range of $14.8 million annually .


Lamar lets loose

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson does not like suggestions that he is at odds with his franchise or tiring of his time in Baltimore.

Well, Jackson’s apparent lack of willingness to sign a contract extension isn’t helping. Neither are this week’s quotes from owner Steve Bisciotti, stating that general manager Eric DeCosta “can’t keep calling him and say(ing), ‘Hey, Lamar, you really need to get in here and get this thing done.’ That’s not a GM’s job.”

That said, Bisciotti added, “We’ll pay [Jackson] when he’s ready.” He also went on to say, “The kid is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl that I think, deep down, he doesn’t think he’s worthy. I think he wants that First Call: Tyrann Mathieu says he got a call from Mike Tomlin; multiple theories on Bruce Arians’ latest ‘retirement’ to say, ‘Now I deserve to be on top.’ People can speculate any way they want. I don’t think he is turned on by money that much, and he knows it’s coming one way or the other.”

So whatever angst Jackson is getting may not be from Bisciotti’s comments directly. But they certainly advanced the conversation Jackson is hearing.


This sounds familiar

Bruce Arians is retiring. Again.

Although unlike when he was forced out as offensive coordinator with the Steelers, Arians is making it sound like he thing to retire this time. That’s as opposed to eventually shooting down those talking points from the Steelers after the 2011 season.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach announced Wednesday that he is stepping down, so that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could be his successor. Arians intimated through Peter King of “Football Morning in America” that he’d likely retire from coaching after the 2022 season ended anyway and that he’s taking a senior consultant’s role to stay with the franchise.

Since then, though, many others have theorized that the Bucs made a choice between Arians and Tom Brady. That Brady would unretire — which he eventually did — if Arians left because a rift had developed between him and the coach.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that Brady “was informed Bruce Arians planned to step down and Todd Bowles would succeed him as head coach either the same day or a day after the QB announced he was ending his retirement … Team insists it was not related to Brady’s decision.”

That’s something Arians continues to deny. “No,” Arians said in King’s post. “No. Tom was very in favor of what I’m doing. I mean, I had conflicts with every player I coached because I cussed them all out, including him. Great relationship off the field.”

And Brady went so far as to say in a lengthy Instagram post, “Thank you, BA for all that you have done for me and our team. You are an incredible man and coach, and it was a privilege to play for you. You are a true NFL legend and pioneer for all the work you have done to make the league more diverse and inclusive.”

So believe what you want, but the timing of all things in Tampa this offseason has been strange.


go figure

On Sunday, the Penguins rocked the Detroit Red Wings 11-2. On Tuesday, the New York Rangers edged the Penguins 3-2. So, one would assume that the Rangers would barrel over Detroit as well Wednesday night.

Not so fast, Detroit was up 4-3 on New York with under five minutes left when Chris Kreider scored his 46th goal for the Rangers.

That tied the game. In overtime Andrew Copp won it for New York.

So the Rangers now have 93 points. That’s three points better than the third-place Penguins and three points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.


Go-Go keeps going

When Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski was traded to Dallas in the James Neal transaction in 2011, many in Pittsburgh assumed he’d bounce around for a few years and then fade into obscurity.

After all, his four years with the Pens were marginal, never exceeding nine goals or hitting 30 points.

Now he’s in his 15th NHL season, currently with the Minnesota Wild, and he just signed a contract extension for two years and $4 million.

The 36-year-old Goligoski has two goals, 26 assists and a team-leading plus-34 rating in 58 games. The Wild hosts the Penguins Thursday.

No word yet if another former Penguin, Marc-Andre Fleury, will be in net or if it’ll be Cam Talbot.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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