Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Reid on Tyrann Mathieu comparisons: 'A copy is never worth as much as the original'

The Chiefs new safety, Justin Reid, plans on setting his own course when he takes the field in Kansas City. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Safety Justin Reid is replacing Tyrann Mathieu, one of the most popular players of the current Kansas City Chiefs era. He said he is friends with Mathieu and learned from him when the two were teammates with the Houston Texans.

But Reid, a free agent who signed a three-year contract with the Chiefs, said he won't be confused with Mathieu once he gets on the field. He plans on setting his own course.

"A copy is never worth as much as the original," Reid said. "There will never, ever, ever be another Tyrann Mathieu come through Kansas City. But I can bring the best Justin Reid possible to Kansas City. I want to play to my strengths. I want to play to who I am.

"You can expect a guy that's going to be not only physical but a guy that's going to make plays on the ball, be that field general on the back end and make sure everything is airtight. If there's a guy in the wrong-colored jersey in my area ... I'm going to make him pay for coming into my space."

Reid was a rookie in 2018, the one season Mathieu played for the Texans before joining the Chiefs. Mathieu's leadership left an impression on the young player.

"I'll never forget his thing was a mentality and attitude, the work ethic and just playing with savviness," Reid said. "He called it ‘championship swagger.' ... His pregame speeches were second to none. He was a big leader in the room, he's someone that everybody gravitated to. So when he did leave Houston, I kind of took over a little bit of that role by the precedent that he set."

Mathieu was the one defensive voice everyone in the Chiefs' locker room listened to for his three seasons in Kansas City. He's gone now and Reid said he planned to help fill that void once the Chiefs gather next month for the start of their offseason conditioning program.

"That's not something that's just given or appointed to someone," Reid said. "That's something you earn in the locker room with the guys themselves. I want to shake every man's hand in that locker room, look them in the eye and know them by their name. In order to receive respect, you first have to give respect. I'm big on that."

For their part, the Chiefs found a lot to like about Reid. One item is that he's 25 years old. They believe his best seasons will come over the life of his contract.

"We're very excited to add an impact player like Justin to our roster," general manager Brett Veach said. "He's young and has proven himself with consistent playmaking ability over the last four years. On top of that, he's incredibly smart and physical."

Reid said he had other teams interested when he became a free agent this week. The Chiefs offered $31.5 million over the three years and to Reid much more.

"The financial part of it does play a role, too, but when you take all of that away, you start to look at the fit and the culture and the opportunity that's in front of you," he said. "I want to play for a championship-caliber team. I want to play in a system that I thought would fit me and would be able to highlight my strengths. When you look at the defense [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] runs and you look at the Chiefs being in the AFC Championship Game [four] years in a row ... it really felt right.

"His defense is very dynamic and I love that. He has so many different wrinkles in it: playing a two-high, switching it up and playing zone, blitzing on occasion. I would love to highlight blitzing a little bit more and add that to my game. ... All of that really intrigued me."