The Arizona Cardinals knew they were taking a risk by selecting LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu with a third-round pick Friday.
A former Heisman Trophy contender, Mathieu did not play football in 2012 as he was kicked off the team due to drug-related issues.
However, his talent was too much for the Cardinals to pass up, and they used the 69th pick in the draft to nab a player who offers as much risk as he does reward.
But, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the Cardinals are aware of the potential pitfalls their new player may face and will do all they can to ensure he does not become a problem.
The Cardinals, one league source told me earlier Sunday, will randomly drug test Mathieu as often as weekly after he signs his NFL contract — a contract, I’m told, that will not include any guaranteed money. Rather, Mathieu will earn bonus money in the form of roster bonuses, to ensure that the club is protected in the event that he lapses and the team chooses to cut him. If that happens, the Cardinals will be out a prime draft choice, but not any guaranteed money. Last year’s 69th pick, wideout T.J. Graham of the Bills, signed a four-year deal with a $671,000 bonus. For Mathieu to make that money, he’ll have to be a member of the Cardinals in good standing week to week — and clean.
Mathieu, who became known as “Honey Badger” during the 2011 season, is viewed as an “impact addition” by Cardinals management. If he can stay on the field, the team will have itself one of the game’s elite play makers, someone who is capable of doing special things with the football in his hands.
And, with friend and mentor Patrick Peterson already on the roster to help out, there is probably a better chance Mathieu will succeed in the Valley than he would have anywhere else.
At least, that’s what the Cardinals are banking on, even if they’re not betting the bank that this will work out.
Update: King’s report may not be 100 percent accurate, as it appears Mathieu’s agent is disputing the notion that there will be no guaranteed money for his client.
Pat Lawlor, Tyrann Mathieu’s agent, on report of no guaranteed $$: “Ridiculous. Not gonna happen. We had no contract discussion with them”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2013