Last month, we heard lining up an extension for Tyrann Mathieu resided as a top offseason priority for the Cardinals. The team’s making good on those intentions and is negotiating a long-term deal for the standout defensive back, Cardinals GM Steve Keim tells James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link).
The Cardinals are being proactive with their former third-round gem, with the window for a Mathieu extension just recently opening after the former LSU star finished his third season.
Mathieu’s agreement will undoubtedly make him one of the highest-paid defensive backs due largely to the fourth-year Cardinal’s versatility. The 23-year-old Mathieu earned first-team All-Pro honors despite tearing his ACL against the Eagles in Week 15.
Pro Football Focus listed Mathieu as its top-rated cornerback, bestowing a 91.6 grade on the Cardinals’ hybrid performer — well clear of its No. 2 outside stopper, Darius Slay. The top individual analytics site lists Mathieu as a corner due to his extensive work in the slot when Arizona shifted to its sub-packages. The Honey Badger’s officially listed as a safety and played there when the Cardinals went into their base defense, but that was only 33% of the time.
So, Mathieu can at the very least expect a contract in line at least in the top bracket of safeties and will probably aim to be paid among the league’s best corners in these negotiations.
Earl Thomas, Devin McCourty and Jairus Byrd are the only safeties to earn $9MM per year on average. Mathieu’s age, elite athleticism and potential ascent could put him clear of each of those performers and place him among the highest-paid defensive backs.
The Cardinals already gave Patrick Peterson a top-market deal that averages $14.01MM per season. That accord ranks behind only Darrelle Revis in terms of AAV. Seven corners average eight-figure earnings, with several members of that group not on Mathieu’s level at present.
Keim also told Palmer (Twitter link) Mathieu’s rehab’s progressing on schedule, with the GM professing Mathieu’s on track to be back at full strength.
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