PHOENIX — Last week, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported the Arizona Cardinals were “deep in negotiations” to sign Tyrann Mathieu to a contract extension.
That the Cardinals and Mathieu were interested in coming to a long-term agreement was not news, but what Rapoport said about potential contract terms was.
“And from what I’m told, a new pay day is expected to make him among the highest paid — if not the highest paid — safety in the NFL,” he said.
That news came out on May 16; by May 22 no deal had been reached, but while walking the red carpet at Steak 44 in Phoenix for the Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser Dinner, Mathieu said he’s aware of the chatter.
“I saw it on TV, which was encouraging, so we’ll see though,” he said. “Obviously this is the place I want to be. I know my coaches want me here so we’ll see how that goes.”
Given recent reports, might a deal be coming soon?
“I think the thing about it is everybody wants to get paid right away, but it’s one of those things that takes time,” he said. “There’s a lot of different dymanics that go into it. Like I said, we’ll see where it goes, but I feel like we are kind of close.”
The highest-paid safeties in the NFL, at least on a per-season basis, is Seattle’s Earl Thomas, who is earning $10 million per year, while the Patriots’ Devin McCourty landed $22 million in guaranteed money in the contract he signed in 2015.
Kansas City’s Eric Berry is set to play under the franchise tag, which would pay him about $10.8 million for the 2016 season.
Where the numbers for Mathieu’s deal will end up is anyone’s guess, but those are probably a reasonable baseline.
By all accounts it is more a matter of when, and not if, something will get done. Mathieu, who last season finished third on the team with 89 total tackles along with one sack, five interceptions, 16 passes defensed and one forced fumble, is an important part of the defense and one of the team’s building blocks for the future.
The former third-round pick out of LSU was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season until he suffered a torn ACL in Week 15 when he was returning an interception. It was his second major knee injury in three NFL seasons, but in terms of his recovery from his latest issue, Mathieu said he couldn’t be happier or more pleased with where he is at right now.
“Back-pedaling, doing different drills, running at about 70 percent,” he said. “I feel great; it’s not one of those things I want to rush though. But I feel good.”
Mathieu is rehabbing on the side while the Cardinals participate in OTAs, the second week of which begins Tuesday. There has been no set timetable for Mathieu to return to the field, but so far his recovery is moving forward at a nice pace.
“I would have to say I’m ahead of schedule,” he said. “I’m just four months removed from surgery and I’m doing a lot of different things so that’s encouraging.”
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