Cardinals Notes: Jones, Fitzgerald, Mathieu

The Cardinals enjoyed an eventful week from a long-term planning perspective, reaching a lucrative extension with Tyrann Mathieu and following that up with smaller-scale extensions for Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer. Up next on Arizona’s deal docket: Chandler Jones?

The recently acquired pass-rusher will be Steve Keim‘s next target for an extension, Ed Werder of reports (on Twitter). A former first-round pick, Jones cost the Cardinals a second-round pick and underwhelming former first-round guard Jonathan Cooper in the March trade with the Patriots, who had a glut of 2017 expiring contracts.

Jones stands to play this season on a fifth-year option of $7.799MM. It would cost upwards of $14MM for the Cardinals to place the franchise tag on him next spring. On the heels of his first Pro Bowl and registering a career-high 12.5 sacks last season, Jones would stand to be one of the most sought-after free agents if he reaches the market.

Here’s some more coming out of the desert.

  • Fitzgerald’s extension that allots an $11MM payment to the standout wideout in 2017 is guaranteed for injury only, Ian Rapoport of tweets. This does not ensure the 32-year-old wide receiver will play for the Cardinals in ’17, which would be his 14th season, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk calling this extension a “free disability policy” for the longtime Arizona pass-catcher. Florio offers that this extension helps the defending NFC West champions avoid the distraction of having one of the best players in franchise history play on an expiring contract this season.
  • Mathieu’s contract calls for the fourth-year defensive back to make $1MM in base salary this season, with bases of $4.75MM, $5.75MM, $5.75MM, $10.75MM and $9.25MM from 2017-21, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports (on Twitter). Underhill reports $35MM of this uniquely crafted contract is guaranteed.
  • The Cardinals took care of Mathieu despite his injuries, enough so that OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald does not categorize this as a two-pronged agreement. He points out the Cardinals giving him substantially more money than the league’s previous highest-paid safety, Harrison Smith, shows they valued him as a cornerback as well rather than just a safety. Mathieu will make $42MM by 2019 on this extension compared to Smith’s $32MM at that point, and the two top-level safeties’ structures separate further by 2020, when Mathieu’s deal will surpass the $53MM mark compared to Smith’s $41MM by that point. His payments are much closer to the likes of Richard Sherman or teammate Patrick Peterson, as Fitzgerald shows.
  • Calais Campbell hopes his contract will be addressed soon. The 29-year-old defensive end is in the final season of a five-year, $55MM deal.
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